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Google to 'launch own PC'

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Google is planning to provide an own-brand Windows-less PC and sell the low-cost system through a partnership with retail giant Wal-Mart. The machine and/or the sales deal could be announced as early as this coming Friday.

So claims the Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources. Whether they've seen the text of Google co-founder Larry Page's Consumer Electronics Show keynote, which he'll make in Las Vegas on Friday, isn't clear, but it's suggested that the talk will cover the new box.

As the paper notes, analysts from investment house Bear Stearns last month claimed Google was preparing a box capable of shuffling digital Internet-sourced media content around the home across local wireless or wired networks.

Crucially, the rig is said to be based on Google's own operating system - most likely Linux in Google clothing - rather than Windows.

Yes, that old chestnut. But while it has been often claimed in the past that Google wants to get into the OS business, there's been no compelling reason given why this would be a good idea. Google's strengths are internet advertising - which is were its money comes from - and its search engine brand. Whether the latter is strong enough to translate into a very different arena - computer hardware - is open to question. Beyond any licensing fee it makes from its manufacturing partner, what's the gain?

Pissing off Microsoft? It might, but releasing a Google OS is a very long way from displacing the Beast of Redmond from its PC throne, particularly in the desktop segment. Apple hasn't done it and Linux hasn't done, and both have had many years to try. Google wouldn't exactly be short of competition on the hardware side either.

The idea of a low-cost, consumer-oriented information processing system isn't unattractive, but it's been tried before and largely failed. In part, that's because the offerings didn't have a backer of the wealth of Google behind it, but unless the vendor seriously limits what the thing can do, sooner or later the support calls start flooding in and the cost of helping non-technical buyers install new software and updates start mounting. All this just to get a few more ads in front of a few more eyeballs, which is the motivation Google is perceived to have behind launching its own PC? ®

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