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Google PC to Hit Walmart? 459

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the google-snowball-effect dept.
Fahrvergnuugen writes "According to latimes.com Google is set to launch the Google PC which will run Google's own operating system. From the article: '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 -- perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.'"
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Google PC to Hit Walmart?

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  • by 75th Trombone (581309) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:25AM (#14383260) Homepage Journal

    This is a piece of speculation that's inside a piece of gossip that's inside a bloody "Predictions for 2006" article.

    Which isn't to say that it can't be true. But it feels like someone heard the phrase "Google OS" [kottke.org] and made up a rumor without knowing what the phrase meant.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:28AM (#14383271) Homepage Journal
      My favorite line from the article: "Google will unveil its own low-price personal computer or other device that connects to the Internet." If these "sources" are so close to the investigation, how can they not even know whether or not the device is a PC?!
      Also, the mention of a "google box" that will move music and video between the PC and TV seems like it really came out of left field....
      • by shanen (462549) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:54AM (#14383368) Homepage Journal
        While I certainly want to believe that there is room for other operating systems, and I'm even certain that Microsoft's Windows is NOT the ultimate and perfect answer to how computers should be used, this article doesn't deserve to be on the /. front page. Actually, the detail about Walmart is the kind of thing that is often added to a bogosity to make it seem more plausible.

        It would be nice if someone could give Microsoft a real run for the money and break up that unnecessary and damaging monopoly. However, I don't think this is the time, and Google isn't strong enough to do it, either. Therefore, they'd be foolish to attack without the ability to win.

        • This is goofball Googlemania nonsense. There are serious copyright hurdles to this idea - just as legislation in this arena becomes ever more restrictive - to name but the first problem that presents itself on first blush. Also, the second someone buys their $199 Wal*Mart, 'Google PC' and it does not run their 4-year-old daughter's "Blue's Clues" and "Dora" CD-ROMs, it goes back - just like the LinSpire boxes did.

          There are more people in MS who are under the spell of Google, than even these 'analysts': Look at Robert Scoble and Dare Obasanjo - tho' the latter seems to actually understand market sense. These ideas float out, with a hope of provoking an MS response that ends up diffusing effort.

          Remember, Bear-Stearns and other investment analysts were the most gullible of the participants in dot-com hype. I was a "fly on the wall" in analyst's calls at Bear Stearns, at Reynolds and at Deloitte. They all smoked the same crack that MCI was pushing about 'Net expansion.

          At investment and professional services firms, you have a crew of youngsters who cut their professional teeth on the Internet bubble. This is the baseline for their experience. They are now all out to find the next big thing - and they hope it's Google. Like Yahoo in '97, with profitability as the latest 'secret sauce'.

          From monitoring this thread, you would think that Google posed as serious a challenge to Microsoft as AMD does to Intel in the microprocessor market.

          It's B.S. Google is good at what they do and are looking to create the kind of continuing growth that justifies the absurd valuation the analysts have bestowed upon them. The only real concern for Microsoft is that the natural area for Google's expansion is a segment that we have also identified for growth.
          • by senatorpjt (709879) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @08:11AM (#14383556)
            Actually, as poor a description as "moving videos between a PC and a TV set" is, it is actually a great idea for something like this. Nobody is ever going to be able to market a PC with a non-windows OS for the reason you mentioned - (almost) everything on the market requires Windows. However, by offering what is essentially a fully-functioning PC with say, Linux, but not positioning it as a PC, it would better have the ability to get into people's homes.

            By not positioning it as a replacement for a Windows PC, but as an additional accessory, it doesn't have to replace every esoteric piece of software available for Windows. However, if these devices become popular for their own specific "purpose", and have the ability to duplicate at least a large portion of the functionality of a Windows PC, the apps will fall into place as people demand them.

            I think an important part of this equation is HDTV. The display's ability to offer a reasonably useful "computer" interface simply wasn't available with NTSC. Now, a box connected to an HDTV display, with a one piece wireless keyboard/trackball interface, could be a lot more palatable to people, than say the old WebTV.

            Hopefully they won't screw it up like everyone else has.
            • by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @09:49AM (#14383876)
              I like the additional accessory angle. That could acutally work if a Google PC can target and overcome the weaknesses in the current iterations of Windows. XP Media Center is nice, but it's only been around for a year or two. People are holding onto machines a lot longer than they used to. Also, Media Center is usually only available on upper tier units. If Google can put a $200 PC out there that's good at DVR functions, can play videos from different sources, and can do some general PC functions, it could be a viable system. Especially if it played nice with the other computer at home by way of file sharing.
            • The PC is dead! (Score:3, Insightful)

              by geekwithsoul (860466)
              This does make sense, in a sort of nonintuitive way. All of those that are saying Google would have to be on crack to challenge Microsoft at this point are correct, if you assume they are looking at simply doing what Microsoft already does. However, that also assumes that a "PC" would be what they are selling. Apple, with the iPod, has already proven that new markets can be created by simply challenging old ideas.

              And just as Apple has been able, to some degree, increase awareness and movement to their platf
          • Also, the second someone buys their $199 Wal*Mart, 'Google PC' and it does not run their 4-year-old daughter's "Blue's Clues" and "Dora" CD-ROMs, it goes back - just like the LinSpire boxes did.

            I think you think too highly of CD-Rom software. This isn't 1996 anymore. Chances are if they can't get flash working on this systems then its more cost effective to have kids go to Nickkids.com or wherever you can play Blues clues for free.

            Also, if parents already have the software, it means they have a computer tha
        • Even though this is probably not true it is an interesting idea. In order to make a google PC with a non
          MS OS usable google would have to create a whole suite of applications (web browser, mail client, office) as well as developing drivers for popular peripherals. This is a pretty big task, the effort reward ratio seems wrong, unless they use already developed software like linux.

          Of course any major competition to MS is welcome, I'm just not sure if even google could pull it off.
        • It would be nice if someone could give Microsoft a real run for the money and break up that unnecessary and damaging monopoly. However, I don't think this is the time, and Google isn't strong enough to do it, either. Therefore, they'd be foolish to attack without the ability to win.

          You know who can? Apple. They've got experience selling and supporting entire computer systems (as opposed to Linux distros, who normally just give away the OS). They've got enouch hardware and software (iPod, Final Cut, even the
        • Nono, you clearly can't read! the subject is Google PC(player Character) to Hit Wal-Mart? clearly after google clears the 7th level of the deepest darkest dungeon they're going to hit the boss of that Dungeon Wal-mart! silly.. it's so obvious from the subject line...
    • by FalconZero (607567) * <FalconZero@Gmail ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:37AM (#14383310)
      Information regarding the OS is sketchy (read: rumours), so here's some (non-authorative) links:


      I'm not so sure about the name 'GooOS' that people are chosing to use. The domain GOOOS.COM is registerd to [enom.com] whoisprivacyprotect.com [whoisprivacyprotect.com] (a subsidiary of Enom [enom.com]), but the CC domains like gooos.co.uk are not yet registered (which seems like a bit of a mistake if thats the name google intend (read:speculation) to use.)
    • Oh my. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Somatic (888514)
      It is just gossip, but it's some of the best tech gossip I've ever heard. Made me all tingly, it did.

      There are so few companies out there that could even dream of competing with Microsoft in the OS area... but, in my mind, Google is one of them. Note how I have absolutely no evidence to back up this opinion... Google doesn't sell gadgets, and they don't really even sell software... but the one thing they do seem to do is succeed. I have a sort of blind faith in Google at this point.

      Of course, trying the

    • First off, when the L.A. Times says "sources tell us", it's a little more reliable than your typical rumour site or ZDnet blogger.

      Secondly, look at Google's efforts to port stuff like the Google toolbar to Firefox.

      Thirdly, look at some of their applications, like Picasa. It uses a completely custom look and widget set, right down to unusual (but quite functional) scrollbars. Presumably, they've built a whole application API that draws and uses these widgets. That's a nice big building block of a custom OS,
      • First off, when the L.A. Times says "sources tell us", it's a little more reliable than your typical rumour site or ZDnet blogger.

        Why? Because they get paid?

        Secondly, look at Google's efforts to port stuff like the Google toolbar to Firefox.

        Uh...they already had it on IE. How does porting it to Firefox make it any more likely that they're developing an OS?

        ...Picasa...

        Google bought Picasa. Maintenance and updates are done in-house now, but the original concept and look-feel was done by anot
  • Low cost? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edgr (781723) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:27AM (#14383265)
    Really, a Windows licence isn't the major part of the cost of a new PC. So just using their own OS (with all the development costs) isn't going to save a huge amount of money per unit sold.
    • Re:Low cost? (Score:5, Informative)

      by knopf (894888) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:35AM (#14383301)
      Windows XP is quite expensive from the OEM's. For example this supplier [chiligreen.at] sells PCs with Windows and Linux. The Linux ones are 82 Euros (about $100) cheaper.

      Given that you can buy PCs for $350, this is about 1/3 of the price.
      • Re:Low cost? (Score:2, Informative)

        by manuell (914815)
        > The Linux ones are 82 Euros (about $100) cheaper.

        Yes, but the Windows ones come preinstalled, not the Mandriva ones.
    • Re:Low cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bit01 (644603) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:39AM (#14383319)

      Really, a Windows licence isn't the major part of the cost of a new PC.

      The lower the cost of the PC the higher the proportion of the cost is the OS.

      So just using their own OS (with all the development costs) isn't going to save a huge amount of money per unit sold.

      It's not nothing either. Dollars matter in high volume products.

      Plus the strategic advantage of not adding to the revenue stream of a major competitor.

      ---

      Are you thinking long term? Just because a TCO may be good in the short term doesn't mean it's good in the long term.

    • Re:Low cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tpgp (48001) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:42AM (#14383332) Homepage
      Really, a Windows licence isn't the major part of the cost of a new PC

      Really? In an industry where saving 2% can mean the difference between life and death? I think the MS tax is going to be a minimum 5% (and an obscene maximum if you fail to negotiate a good deal)

      OEMs get the best license they can negotiate - it might be good if you're Dell - and don't compete in any space MS wants to own, but I doubt google is going to get the same deal from MS are they?
      • Re:Low cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eraserewind (446891) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:57AM (#14383374)
        The cost is offset somewhat by the strange fact that 95% of PC's won't sell until you install Windows on them. A small margin is better than no margin at all.
      • Re:Low cost? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:21AM (#14383430)
        I doubt google is going to get the same deal from MS are they?

        It is an interesting question. If the alternative is Google coming up with a competitive OS, Google might be offered a very sweet deal.

        Those thinking an alternative OS from Google is impracticable because of the current MS dominance are, I think, misunderstanding what Google is likely to offer. The target (at least initially) is not going to be businesses with a huge prior investment in applications needing 100% MS compatibility. I believe they will target the consumer, with a PC that ties the Internet cleanly with other consumer devices (TV, stereo, MP3 player). They could do this with a device that was difficult to hack because the PC itself was deliberately limited. Files and applications would reside on Google's servers as far as possible, with a browser type interface. I think this is a logical move for Google, to beat Apple to the punch.

      • People focus so much on how the cost of the OS is a burden, but then come down on MS when they don't provide a security update immediately. Now, I'm certainly in the camp that says security updates should flow fast and furious, but I'm not unrealistic enough to think that that's cheap. Could it come in at a lower price point? Sure. But, I'm certain that any platform sold at Walmart or any other major retailer would have to be backed by an organization that offered security and bug-fix updates for free, whic
    • I'm sure that your logic is flawless for your PC, but when it comes to manufacturing cheap (say 200$ retail price) PC's for the average Joe, a 199$ operating system is not an option. A cheap Wal-Mart PC with an easy-to-use Google OS (with ASP programs) just might be what the world needs.

  • Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by RickPartin (892479) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:28AM (#14383272) Homepage
    This Slashdot summery makes it sound like this is a sure thing. It is only a rumor at this point. Here is a quote from the article

    "Here are some predictions for the media industry for 2006, based on interviews with industry analysts, executives and investors, along with a little intuition."
    • Re:Misleading (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bit01 (644603)

      It is only a rumor at this point.

      It's not a rumor. It's a prediction, a not unreasonable prediction.

      If Google wants to stop cross-subsidising it's major competitor it could do worse than have its own PC where much of the utility of the PC is in Google's web presence.

      ---

      The majority of modern marketing is nothing more than an arms race to get mind share. Everybody loses except the parasitic marketing "industry".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:52AM (#14383361)
      For the sake of his office furniture, let's hope Steve Ballmer realises it's only a rumour...
    • by cgenman (325138)
      It is only a rumor at this point. Here is a quote from the article

      "Here are some predictions for the media industry for 2006, based on interviews with industry analysts, executives and investors, along with a little intuition."


      Oh come on. If you want dependable information on the future of IT you always go to industry analysts, executives, and investors. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to refill the iSmell [howstuffworks.com] attached to my Internet Appliance [palmpower.com].
  • by RonStoppable102 (940210) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:30AM (#14383280) Homepage
    In other news, the Google PC will replace all of Wal Mart's PC's that ship with Microsoft BOB...
  • by resistant (221968) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:32AM (#14383288) Homepage Journal
    Google just needs to tweak a common free OS to be friendly to all their little sub-projects, in a manner similar to but more extensive than how Opera (the browser) now defaults to Google search. Even that will panic the drones at Microsoft, who are paranoid about Google anyway.
    • Google just needs to tweak a common free OS to be friendly to all their little sub-projects

      Since google already use linux for their operations, and presumably tweak to their purposes, my bet is that they would do the same on their hypothetical OS.

      Incidently I have installed Ubuntu 5.10 on two desktop systems for family members in the last three days, and my observation is that Linux is really becoming a solid alternative to windows for home/office applications. OO is quite a bit faster and support for wor

      • Since google already use linux for their operations, and presumably tweak to their purposes, my bet is that they would do the same on their hypothetical OS.

        If they do, it won't be visible on the surface. They're unlikely to take Microsoft head-on in the general purpose computing market.
        Instead, I'd expect an appliance-like computer that does the basics (office stuff, music, videos etc) so simply and well it'll seem groundbreaking - like the first Palm Pilots - with the Google search heavily featured as
    • I believe what we will see are computers which just have a bootloader and rom chip with a very simple custom OS on it for fetching GUI components from google's web servers. The interface the user will see will be completely virtual, meaning their machine is just a dumb client running google OS remotely. There is no need for a hard drive, as all user data will be stored on google servers. No need to upgrade any software, as the software is kept up-to-date on the google servers. Virtual dumb terminals or
  • First thing that springs to mind is the $100 laptop? [mit.edu]. That aside, this isn't too far fetched, given that you can get a dell computer with monitor for about $400 [gotapex.com]. Less, without.
  • by mister_llah (891540) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:33AM (#14383294) Homepage Journal
    It is a rumor on the LA Times site, which I think is less 'rumor' than most tech sites...

    ===

    I expect this Google OS and PC both will be released in permanent beta, like the rest of their products.
  • Wonder if.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chicane-UK (455253)
    Google and Apple are going to put their heads together.

    Apple are also rumoured to be doing some sort of PVR - and Apple, as we've seen in recent months, don't seem to be so afraid of working with other companies. With Mac World due on the 9th of Jan, it'd be quite a big / heavy duty step to announce something around then and those two companies working together would be quite something... surely they are desperate to give Microsoft a good thrashing between them!

    Just random speculation - i'm probably quite,
  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:38AM (#14383315)
    You see, the subject matter of my post is not a sensationalistic troll because of the trailing question mark.

    Or so goes the "logic."

  • TFA is useless, nothing more than gossip, almost worse than blog-level "forecasts".
    BUT it would be interesting to pretend that Google is really coming out with its own OS in, say, late 2006 (GoOS vs. Vista anyone?). What do you think such system would be like? Architecture? Notable features?
    I for one think it would probably be free (as in gratis or dirt cheap) and Unix-based; maybe based on Linux or more likely on BSD. But, besides featuring Google logos everywhere and coming bundled with GMail/GoogleTalk a
    • why would they choose it over any other *nix you say?
      the average user has never even heard of unix. however you would be hard pressed to find an internet user not familiar with google. branding goes a long way...and microsoft is know to be a security risk round the internet.....google has a good internet rep.

      so they would choose it over any other *nix because they wouldn't know that they were choosing over anything. if this came out more people will hear of it than linux could hope to dream of
    • what INNOVATIVE features would it bring to the market?

      A new document based shell. You search for documents and open them by clicking on links.

  • by mpemba (681495) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:39AM (#14383320)
    Maps integrated with yellow pages and craiglist, with pretty pictures and IM....ect..
    I might pay a nice price for a google handheld.

    Call up the telco's, "This is Google. We are going to start a blackberry startup.
    Give our customers access where ever they are, and we will reward you with lots of cash."
  • Name? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ceeam (39911) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:41AM (#14383325)
    What OS will it run? GNU of course! - Google's Not Unix.
  • 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 -- perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.

    Bear Stearns analysts speculated in a research report last month that consumers would soon see something called "Goog
  • by cffrost (885375) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:48AM (#14383343) Homepage

    Do no evil one day, in league with the devil the next.

  • "The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap -- perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars."

    You mean like one of these:
    http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features. aspx/featured_basdt?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs [dell.com]

    Something tells me, between tech support and corporate infrastructure, very little of that cost is the "microsoft tax".
  • by illtron (722358) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:52AM (#14383359) Homepage Journal
    The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap -- perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.'"

    Um, has anybody else ever seen a PC? They already sell for as little as a couple of hundred dollars.
    • Um, has anybody else ever seen a PC?

      Never had to touch a PC since getting this wireless cranial implant to talk to the Internet with. It's been great, but I have this continuous boner because I download porn everytime I think about it. Anyway, I'm off to Jeopardy, where I'll be able to break Ken Jenning's record by mentally Googling the answer to every question.

  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @06:55AM (#14383371)
    I thought their motto was "Do no evil"?
  • Oh no! (Score:3, Funny)

    by qazsedcft (911254) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:01AM (#14383380)
    Steve Ballmer is going to be throwing chairs again...
  • When i say, "Finally! A reason to go into Walmart."

    Seriously, just make it do one clever thing and I'll buy one. I'd love a media PC to replace my modded xbox (which is the best thing that ever happened to TV).

    I'd like to add, if it exists, and you can hook it up to a TV as the article suggests, then you can probably play some kind of videogames on it.

  • by melonman (608440) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:17AM (#14383417) Journal

    Wal-Mart Bad, Google Good... oh dear, isn't it getting complicated!

    Apart from that, I think Google would be mad to go the PC route. For a start, the money was never in the hardware. Also, I can't think of a better way to lose goodwill than to start selling budget PCs to the least technically literate segment of the PC-buying population and then failing to provide premium support.

    Yes yes, there's Apple, but Apple don't generally do bargain basement prices. If you make an enormous margin on the hardware, you may be able to afford to keep your customers happy, even when they are clueless idiots. No-one, not even Google, will be able to do that on a $200 sale price.

  • Granted this is all just speculation based upon what seem to be unverified sources, but... If this is true, it comes as no surprise to me. It's just the next step in Google's plan to replace the big bad computing oligopoly with the soon-to-be Google media, communications, and software monopoly. Of course, I'm just a crazy doomsayer without a clue, so what do I know. 2006 is going to be very interesting.
  • by tommyleebyron (601830) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:23AM (#14383435)
    I think the whole deal the made few months ago was just about this. Google will rebrand Solaris 10 as their OS and will bundle Staroffice with it!

    Google is going after the only two Microsoft cash cows: Windows and MS Office...

    The only problem I foresee is that Google does not have any capabilities on handling customer support...

    well neither has Microsoft...I guess they are even!

  • by mustafap (452510) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:25AM (#14383446) Homepage
    Margins on hardware are *thin*. There is no reason why Google would want to enter that market. OS maybe, turn-key systems? Nah.

  • Clearly this is a rumour based on some late night beer thinking but really why would Google bother getting into the PC business or OS business? Cost of entry is very high, unless they just re-badge a Linux distro, in which case they'd be better off buying one of the smaller distro companies out there. But even with that why would they bother. The whole principle of what they are doing is about moving things to being more and more connected and providing facilities (Google Desktop) that tie people into th
  • Why go with Walmart? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snamh Da Ean (916391) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:27AM (#14383450)
    Assuming this is true (keeping in mind the article is based on predictions and intuition) why would a tech savvy company partner with Walmart? I would have thought that if google decide to sell desktops they would follow the Dell model of selling their own customisable machines through their own website.

    Imagine the sales they could generate if the first paid text link that appeared whenever you googled something like "new pc" or "pc prices" was for google's own offering? I accept that Walmart have an incredible distribution system, but since Google's business model is already so profitable, why hand margin over to old fashioned bricks and mortar retailers.

    My two cents.
    • Because they aren't targetting the PC market. They are aiming at people for whom a PC is way too difficult, at those fed up with PC but not ready to shell out enough for a Mac, for these who want a home media center or something alike. Walmart is where you buy home appliances. Dell is where you buy computers. They want to sell an appliance, not a PC.
  • by el_womble (779715) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:35AM (#14383465) Homepage
    Would people buy a $200 computer that doesn't run Windows, if it carried the Google Brand?

    I, personally doubt it.

    Would they buy a GoogleBox, that allows them to access their web mail, google office (assuming its not a myth) and various web sites "without a computer", and all they have to do is hook it up to a DSL/Cable line and a power line? I think they would.

    My sister is terrified of computers. Her husband finally bought one and within a day they were swamped with the usual microsoft web experience (malware and viruses). All they want their computer for is email, online banking, storing digital photos and getting cheap flights. They don't word process, because neither of them do any work at home (nurse/buyer). Now they have a 64bit Athalon gathering dust in the corner of their office (i didn't recommend it... i know its a waste).

    A GoogleBox could really solve their problems, and $200 is a good price point. To really take off it needs to:

    • Not look like a computer - think Mac Mini (for use with a TV) or tablet
    • Be nothing else than a reasonable harddisk (for local caching of photos and email) and a fanless processor with 256MB RAM
    • be built into a 15" touchscreen LCD. If my sister can connect her Nintedo DS to my network using nothing but a touchscreen, we're getting somewhere.
    • Include solitare or another equally time wasting mini-game
    • Not use the words: computer, network, PC, homework anywhere near it. Instead say: web point, research, email and internet.


    Basically, think PDA but without PIM, and make it abundantly clear that this thing lives on the coffee table/kitchen sideboard, not in the brief case, on the train/plane or in the office so that the dim witts at PC World don't start comparing it PDAs/Laptops. If its going to be compared to anything it should be web service built into some cable set-top boxes and look terrible at NTSC resolutions. There could really be a market.
     
    • by Darkon (206829) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:46AM (#14383492)
      Would they buy a GoogleBox, that allows them to access their web mail, google office (assuming its not a myth) and various web sites "without a computer", and all they have to do is hook it up to a DSL/Cable line and a power line?

      Sure, just like they bought all those "internet appliances" and "web terminals" which were supposed to be the next big thing a few years ago and now go for peanuts on eBay [ebay.com].
      • Brand power (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xtal (49134)
        Those little appliancs all looked bad, and didn't have any brand identification behind them.

        Put them in a pretty white box with a bright GoOgLe logo, and you have the makings of something very powerful.

        People aren't buying a web terminal or an interface, they're buying a gateway to use Google.

        If it turns out to be true, it's a potentially brilliant move for Google. How does Google make all those megabucks? Advertising. They made it work, bigtime. What's advertising about? Eyeballs. Google is brilliant for p
    • Be nothing else than a reasonable harddisk (for local caching of photos and email) and a fanless processor with 256MB RAM

      Disks are expensive, bulky, fault-prone, noisy, power-hungry etc etc. Maybe not all of them are all of these mentioned, but usually at least some of these factors must be taken into account.
      On the other hand think lots of dark fibre and container data centers, plus good broadband and a suite of network apps.
      I guess a single slot for SD/MMC/CF card for storing local files would suffice. No
    • I've met plenty of people like this.

      Us technical guys can manage, but I did a little work for a tradesman I know, and basically, cleaned up his PC. They don't know they have to defrag, don't run anti-spyware. They don't want to play 3d games or compile code.

      They want a machine with a browser, word processing, spreadsheet and photo-editing.

      The rise of laptops is significant, and shows the way. A lot of home users I know are going laptop because of space and usage concerns. They like to be able to sit a

  • No leaks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DebianDog (472284) <dan@daTEAnslagle.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:48AM (#14383499) Homepage
    If it WAS true (and not a rumor) it would have also been the "first ever" software package ever to be put to market without ANY of the development staff OR beta testers leaking a copy.

    Has much as I love my geek brethren... I was in disbelief before I even clicked the article.
    • Re:No leaks? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @01:53PM (#14385468)
      If it WAS true (and not a rumor) it would have also been the "first ever" software package ever to be put to market without ANY of the development staff OR beta testers leaking a copy.

      Umm... if the Google box is a thin client, there's not going to be a "software package" to leak. It'd probably be running a small footprint version of a highly customized Firefox browser over a streamlined linux kernal. And I suspect that no one would find anything interesting about a leaked copy of Firefox.

      Honestly, people are missing the boat here. In a web-centric world, the OS becomes relatively trivial, more like a display and interface driver system. If everything "in the machine" is stored on Google servers, and the "software" is little more than pages served from a host you don't need much on the client end -- a single set of display and video drivers (all of the Google cubes will be the same) and something to drive the interface ports. No more.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @07:59AM (#14383526) Journal
    Reading down it suddenly turns from rumor investigation into a prediction article for what will happen in the "new" economy in 2006. Most of wich I got absolutly no clue whatsoever about so it makes it hard to judge the various predictions.

    Myself I think 2006 WILL see a new entry into the computer in the living room market. It is called the PS3 and rumors about that are nowadays so solid it we even have some idea about how it will be done. The PS3 will have an optional addon in the form of a HD wich will contain a version of the linux kernel (no not GNU/Linux, I said kernel) and presumably some kind of userspace software to use it. Cool as booting linux is the usual purpose is to then get a working enviroment.

    Note that is NOT clear yet that this addon will turn your PC into a desktop. Merely that it can boot the kernel. Logic would dictate that Sony wouldn't do this without a very good reason, like trying to get a shot at putting the desktop in the living room, but who knows.

    It is however an optional extra and this makes it clear that Sony is not exactly making a major push out of it. Unless of course all the really good games require the add-on.

    So how does this relate to a Google PC? Well Sony can do this attempt on the back of its regular launch of a new console. The console, sony hopes, will be attractive enough on its own to get into millions of homes. To then add a tiny amount of extra effort and be able to stealthly introduce their own PC like solution into those exact same homes must be nice bonus. It is well known that the asian tech giants are not at all happy with MS dominance on the PC market and would love to get their teeth into it.

    So a linux desktop to attack MS where have you heard that before eh? Well don't forget that Sony (if it will truly do this) has two gigantic advantages over such efforts as Lindows. 100% Hardware support. No problem with getting companies to create proper drivers for a tiny marketshare. The team behind the PS3 knows what hardware is inside and could easily write the drivers. One often mentioned problem of Linux swept away in an instant. Oh and I bet it also makes the whole "configuration" a lot easier. There is after all only going to be one.

    Second Linux problem? No games. Well for some reason I do not think that buying the Linux addon is going to brick your PS3 and make it impossible to game with it. Another problem of Linux instantly swept away.

    Now Google doesn't have anything like that. While its software is "installed" on every pc (A common browser) it is almost impossible for them to PUSH their technology. They certainly can't piggy back it onto anything. The recent deal with opera on the mobile market is perhaps the only way Google can "force" its way onto a computer.

    Or put another way, PS3 would be bought for games and the desktop is an extra. GooglePC would be bought for .... Well it would be the same as the Lindows PC. An computer that could be quite good but would never be the real thing. Even such simple things as getting Flash to work would be a killer for a browser PC. So why should a person buy a crippled PC when for a few bucks more they can get one that is a proper windows machine (Security? Yeah like walmart buyers know about that).

    There might be another possible avenue of approach and that is to pull an iPod with the GooglePC. Part of Apples success is that it was rich and powerfull enough to make a bet and order the parts for the iPod in such numbers that it could get huge discounts. It is not that the iPod is better then say iRiver or even Creatives offerings. But as shown painfully clear with the iPod Nano, Apple could simply offer more for less. its competitors simply can't put the same hardware inside for the same price.

    Apple when it entered the MP3 player market was an accidental giant (Sony/Philips/etc were all asleep at the wheel) who could simply squish all competitors.

    Is the PC market similary open? Can a company with enough muzzle simply order a milli

    • Sony released a hdd/Linux combination for the PS1 and the PS2. They were called Yaroze [wikipedia.org] and PS2 Linux [wikipedia.org]. PS3 Linux is a natural extension of these.

      They were basically a very expensive ways for hobbyists to get their hands dirty with the console before moving on to full-on game development (the graphics subsystems were locked out), while Sony had an expensive source to mine for ideas [allps2.com].
    • by harl (84412)
      That's all well and good except for one small problem. The keyboard. There is no interface that can come close to the functionality of a keyboard. Most consoles are used from the sofa or arm chair. Where do you put the keyboard?

      Without a replacement for the keyboard it will forever be a nitch item. Any sort of desktop they provide will simply be a novelty.
  • by hattig (47930) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @08:02AM (#14383534) Journal
    Solaris 10 or Linux with a Gnome front-end (custom theme) and a document/data centric file browser and application suite. Of course the GTK load/save dialogs would also be replaced with document/data centric interfaces rather than the traditional file system view. Office tasks would be handled via StarOffice or OpenOffice. The browser would be Firefox. Again, the theme would be consistent for these applications as well. I'd expect a certain amount of lock-down and customisability restrictions.

    The computer would also act as a home search box, it'd index all accessible data sources - network drives, etc. The file browser would give you a simple interface to all of these, again in a document centric manner.

    Thing is, whilst possible, and indeed I wouldn't mind having the OS manage my files for me if it did it well and the files were properly indexed, I don't think Google could have arranged this in even 3 years of development - it is a lot of work. Then again, they are a very motivated company.
  • by trollable (928694) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @09:51AM (#14383890) Homepage
    The machine would run an operating system created by Google

    Google has neither the skills nor the team to create an operating system in 2006. If they distribute anything called Google OS, it will be a derivative work of an already existing OS. Maybe from a proprietary one but more probably from a Free one. The question remains: Linux, Darwin, Solaris or OpenBSD.
  • by raarts (5057) * on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @10:37AM (#14384132)
    Let's see.. Google already runs tens of thousands of servers. They have stated they need more bandwidth and more power.

    Wouldn't it be great if they have a computing box in *every* home, just to extend their computing power? No power bills, no need to buy more hardware?

    Give the owners some of the benefits (cached searches, gmail, maybe use it as a PC in some ways, and otherwise use the box for your own purposes.). Interesting thought.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @11:21AM (#14384408)
    Will my Google PC be compatible with my CueCat?
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @12:02PM (#14384693)
    I mean, we are in serious need of a NEW OS, something not derived from 20+ year old technology.

    Both NT and Linux and OSX streams are all based on last century technology using ancient file systems and trying to do modern techniquies like Database driven file systems and online Internet access.

    For a Modern OS, I propose that Google start fresh, from the ground up, using these concepts:

    1) TRUE meta driven DB file system. Append to the front or back of every file meta data and index meta data in a true DB file system. Tiger isn't there yet, Tiger simply endlessly indexes files in a half assed attempt to seem like a modern OS. WinFS might be closer, whenever MS figures out how to do it.

    2) Flat file system, throw out folders and directories structures. There is no need to atrificailly distribute files across archaic tree structures if your using a true DB file system. All files could be accessed using database views (i.e. show me all pictures taken in 2005, or show me all letters written to Jane, or all music by Ween). You can actually imitate folder trees by putting a path meta tag in the file header, but there is no need to physically address files in tree structures. Instead, worry about putting frequently accessed files in faster parts of the hard drive.

    3) Make a distinction between USER data and SYSTEM data. Who needs to be aware of 100,000+ files on your OS? 99% of all the files on your Windows or *nix OS are completely meaningless to you. A Modern OS should make a distinction between System data and User data. System data is ALL files that YOU didn't create, save to, or distribute from your computer, and these system files should not be indexed or maintained by a DB file system. System files can remain in a protected bubble on your hard drive and accessed by developer tools. Instead, index only those image, video, music and document files the user actually cares about and hide the rest. I don't want to see 100,000+ files on my computer anymore. Kind of like what Google Destop does, but being more aware of the difference between System and User files.

    4) END FILE EXTENSIONS. REAL OSES don't need a .jpg to know its a jpeg file! META DATA PEOPLE!

    5) Wrap Applications in ONE OBJECT. Apple had it, but lost it moving to OSX. The idea that ALL files associated with an Application remain in ONE OBJECT. Do not allow Applications to spread themselves across a hard drive, installing parts to a variety of locations and modifying other files (sorry, OSX does this, putting files and configuration settings in multiple locations, and then FORGETTING about them). A Modern OS will figure out how to protect an Application as an Object without allowing it to be distributed illegally, something Apple never figured out how to do. To install an Application, drag it to the partition, to uninstall it, delete it, period. Once an Application is uninstalled, the OS and computer should look like the Application never existed, period. NO ORPHANED APPLICATION DATA.

    6) Make internet connectivity a requirement. A modern OS shouldn't operate without internet connectivity. By constantly keeping up-to-date on security issues, and also allowing for proper online authentification of applications and media, a modern OS would allow for a new generation of online media distribution that isn't prone to piracy (i.e. the music and movie industries actually embracing online distribution). Building an OS around the internet should also make is the most secure and safe environment. Rather then the constant forcing of old, pre-internet operating systems to modern day online needs and introducing security flaws, start fresh.

    If anyone has the resources to actually make a successful new OS, it would be Google. By taking their web indexing techniques and creating a new File system with these concepts in mind, a Google OS will make accessing data effortless and fast.

    Just, please don't get into that trend and habit of using Linux as a base. NO LINUX
  • by abelikoff (412709) on Tuesday January 03, 2006 @12:12PM (#14384756) Homepage
    Who needs common sense when you can ride the industry craze. A couple years ago we would hear about a Java Operating System, that would render laptops free. Today it's all Google: "The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap -- perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars."

    Too bad the idiots didn't bother to check the facts: Windows OEM license is actually in the $50-$90 range. That's exactly the savings you get for not preinstalling Windows on a PC. The rest is hardware.

    There is another somewhat plausible explanation of low cost however: having an Operating System so lightweight, it doesn't requires too much hardware. For a common e-mail-browser-wordprocessor-spreadsheet use case one doesn't need 1Gb or RAM. Building an OS that is oriented toward that use case should result in much lower resource requirements, making hardware cheaper.

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