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Google PC rumors heat up again

1/3/2006 11:33:40 AM, by Eric Bangeman

Although not quite the target for rampant rumor-mongering that Apple is, Google still draws its fair share of speculation. The latest new Google product allegedly in the pipeline is the Google PC/Internet Appliance/thingy. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Google will unveil just such a device at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

According to the paper, Google's new PC will not run Windows. Rather, it will use an OS created by Google. Pricing is reputed to be in the "very cheap" range, which I'm guessing would put it in the sub-US$300 category. Google has reportedly been in negotiations with Wal-Mart about carrying the device, whatever it may be. That would give Google's device instant reach.

Google CEO Larry Page is giving a keynote address at CES, and is expected by some to announce the device. (I'll be at his keynote as part of Ars Technica's coverage of CES.)

Speculation about Google introducing a PC or Internet Appliance is nothing new. However, the rumors have been growing louder and more persistent over the past few months. In December, one analyst predicted the arrival of "Google Cubes," which would be Google-branded hardware that would function primarily as a media server. That seems outlandish at best.

Looking solely at the possibility of a Google PC, we can make some educated guesses about the nature of such a beast. It would definitely run some flavor of Linux, probably heavily customized. Arguments about whether Linux is "ready for the desktop" aside, it's a natural as a low-cost (free) OS that can perform all the basic functions that the typical PC user needs. Google could include Firefox with the Google Toolbar preinstalled and could easily tweak one of the IM clients to work with GTalk out of the box.

The bigger question is why Google would want to enter an entirely new market with its own peculiar set of headaches. Although manufacturing, distribution, and even call center/support desk tasks could easily be done by third parties, Google would still need to devote a significant proportion of its resources to a new PC division. Yes, Google sells search appliances for the corporate market, but the company's core competencies are search, Internet advertising, and software development.

Another concern would have to be consumer acceptance of Linux as an operating system. How many Linspire-branded PCs were returned to Wal-Mart once users booted them up to discover that Windows

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Cheap PCs, anyone?

Google will unveil its own low-price personal computer or other device that connects to the Internet.

Sources say Google has been in negotiations with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among other retailers, to sell a Google PC. The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap

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Google set to challenge PC makers with $200 entry-level computer

By Joe Bolger

GOOGLE is planning an assault on PC manufacturers with an entry-level computer that would mark its most audacious expansion to date.

The American internet giant is thought to be on the verge of launching a slimmed-down machine that will sell for $200 (

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