The newspaper, citing unnamed analyst sources, reported Sunday that such a Google PC could cost as little as a couple of hundred dollars, or less than the US$430 a single share of Google stock is worth today - because it would avoid the need to install Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.
Larry Page, Google's co-founder and president of products, will give a keynote address on Friday at the annual CES, where many consumer products for the year ahead are introduced. The newspaper said that analysts 'suspect' Page will use the high-profile forum to 'show off a Google computing device or announce a partnership with a big retailer to sell such a machine.'
A Wal-Mart spokesperson called the report 'strictly a rumor without any truth to it at all.' A call to Google was not immediately returned. Google has long been rumored to be working on its own operating system, possibly based on Linux, as well as its own Web browser. Screenshots purportedly from an in-development Google operating system were circulated on the Internet in September, but were later discredited.
Bear Stearns released a report last month speculating that consumers would soon be able to see 'Google Cubes' -- small hardware boxes that would allow users to move songs, videos and other digital files between their computers and TV sets. In recent months, Google has also unveiled services and software delivered through the Internet that go beyond its core Web text search engine and match features provided by Microsoft applications.
But Michael Gartenberg, a consumer Internet analyst with Jupiter Research, said that while Google has done a good job of 'co-opting the Windows desktop away from Microsoft,' it faces an 'astronomical challenge' if it wants to replace the OS itself. 'You're talking about going one-on-one with Microsoft and all of its partners, and creating a whole eco-system of software applications on your own. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely to be successful? It's hard to imagine, unless there is something we don't yet know about.'