Why on earth would Google do a PC?

There’s been a mountain of chatter on the Web about rumours that Google might announce a Google PC – rumours that got a new lease on life from a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times, although they have been around for a while. Those rumours, which have been tracked by CNet, have now been denied by a spokesman for the search giant, and by Wal-Mart, which was supposed to be the company’s partner (along with Wyse Technologies).

It’s a tempting rumour in part because people seem to lust for a strong competitor for Microsoft – and what better competitor than a cash-rich company with a great brand and a market value that is bigger than Coca-Cola and Cisco Systems, and just behind IBM? A little Google cube with a version of Linux on it and some Web-based office software sounds so great, doesn’t it?

The only downside is that it seems like a pretty stupid idea in a lot of ways, as Carlo at TechDirt and John Battelle have both noted. Why should Google bother selling such a system, when it can just avoid all the cost and hassle by distributing software that does the same thing on other people’s computers? I just don’t see the point. Neither does Alec Saunders, (who invokes the ghost of Michael Cowpland).

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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