Google has denied reports that it is working on a low-price personal computer, or a "Google Cube," that would link up a user's PC, TV, set-top box and cell phone.
"We have many PC partners who serve their markets exceedingly well, and we see no need to enter that market; we would rather partner with great companies," Google said in a statement.
However, that doesn't preclude Google from partnering with a hardware maker. A top executive of thin-client maker Wyse Technology, told The New York Times that Google has been in talks with his company. "The discussions are focused on a $200 Google-branded machine that would likely be marketed in cooperation with telecommunications companies in markets like China and India, where home PCs are less common, said John Kish, chief executive of Wyse," the Dec. 11 article said.
Wyse Technology spokeswoman Laurie Garvey said in an interview with CNET News.com that "We are in very early stage discussions to explore a potential relationship." She said it was too early in the process to provide any further details.
A Google representative said she had no information about any Wyse discussions but that she would look into it.
In November, Robert Cringely forecasted in his blog that Google will create distributed data centers in shipping containers that would be used to link up "Google Cubes." He describes them as plug-and-play devices that would serve as the company's "interface to every computer, TV and stereo system in your home, as well as linking to home automation and climate control??(and) are networked together wirelessly in a mesh network so only one need be attached to your broadband modem or router."
That was followed by a Dec. 19 research note from Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck that referenced Cringely's prediction. "Through recent conversations with a technology pundit, we think Google could be experimenting with new hardware endeavors that could significantly change potential future applications by Google, creating another advantage for Google over its competitors," the note said.
On Sunday, The Los Angeles Times cited the Bear Stearns report in an article, providing its own predictions for 2006. "Google will unveil its own low-price personal computer or other device that connects to the Internet," the article said. Citing unnamed sources, it also said Google and Wal-Mart Stores were in talks to deliver the inexpensive hardware, infused with a Google operating system and applications.
However, Wal-Mart denied the report. "That's just a rumor. There's no truth to it whatsoever," a Walmart representative said.
In a phone interview on Tuesday with CNET News.com, Cringely said his source for the "Google Cube" information was "people who know about this stuff."
"This is a strategy Google is strongly considering," he said. "I don't know if they've made the financial commitment to do it or not. I know of two other organizations who are considering doing the same thing," he said, declining to elaborate.
Cringely dismissed Google's denial as being too vague and said it left the company open to partner with hardware makers.
"In its simplest sense, the Cube is a home Internet gateway," he said. The great challenge right now is, how do you get that movie you downloaded over the Internet onto your TV? The Google answer is, maybe you...just need an adapter that your TV can plug into and suddenly it is getting it. If you don't want to plug your TV in, plug your phone in."