The Google PC future? Free PCs and broadband from Google

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Google, while not jumping directly into the consumer hardware market is doing their best to influence the structure of the web and computing devices by giving away hardware designs for power supplies for PCs, releasing papers on harddrive faults, helping the people with mySQL and very possibly releasing specs and software for others to build mobile phones. We’re now seeing super-cheap desktop PCs as well, such as the Green PC for 100 dollars and maybe Google will even release an operating system for PCs, though more than likely it’ll just be gateway software to the online world. Their biggest moves so far do seem to be on the gateway to the Google computing cloud. They’re still building out their datacentres all around the world. They’ve provided access to their systems via APIs (not great ones though), they’re building serious fibre backbones, so eventually they are going to be getting closer and closer to our homes or our computing devices. It would almost make sense for them to refine the Google access process even more if they could influence your PC and your line from your home (or location with mobile broadband) so what if they partnered with companies to give away free subsidised computers and broadband? Here’s one take:

Welcome to 2009 in Ireland.

People are walking into their local PC World and Dixons and buying the Google PC for 100 euros. They bring it home and plug it into their broadband connection and away they go surfing the net. The box is a simple device that has no DVD drive, it has three USB slots, a connection for a monitor and an ethernet connection.

Specs of the Google PC:

  • Mini-PC, barebones, runs silent.
  • 3 USB slots.
  • Ethernet slot.
  • Card reader.
  • No DVD.
  • 200 GB HD.
  • Runs Google Vision Operating System
  • You supply the monitor.

Google Vision
Google Vision is the stripped down, web-centric operating system from Google. You can install simple Google Applications on the computer which you can only download after they have been verified by Google. The operating system is highly secure and has a built-in anti-virus system though since all your documents and data are stored online anyway (though synced offline) it doesn’t matter so much and Google Vision so far has proved to be one of the most secure and virus-free operating systems ever. It will also roam with you so that wherever you go, you will have the same interface and it even has an interface for your phone so you can access all your data that way. Applications can be installed on the machine and all settings are stored online as well as offline, so if you move to a new country, you buy your PC there and everything is installed for you on first sign-in. Google provides an API for the Google PC but it is very limited.

Get the Google PC and broadband for free.
Broadband providers are also “selling” the Google PC, by which I mean, you get a free broadband connection and a free PC if you sign up to their phone package. There’s no hidden costs. This makes them money as they have a revenue share with Google on any ads you click on when you surf the net with the Google PC. Due to the profile the telco has on you, which they share with Google, ads are now VERY local. Your local butcher around the corner can now advertise to you. Hyper-local-ads means ad costs are higher than ever but it also gets better sales, which means much better revenue for Google, your telco and the advertiser. You also get free calls to any Google advertiser. An additional plus for all the telcos is that Google looked after international access for free, so telco costs came way down too. The old net neutrality arguments from Google now seemed like red herring and distracted the international carriers enough for them not to see what was happening.

Privacy: Microsoft Vs Google
Microsoft tried to counter this on four fronts:

  • Privacy complaints: Microsoft lobbied the US Administration and the EU to investigate what they suggested was a gross invasion of privacy with the implications that every site you visited, everything you clicked on and everyone you called was now logged and stored by Google, this was DoubClick but way worse.
  • Monopolistic Practices: Microsoft and what was left of the traditional advertising business (except Facebook) joined forces even more to lobby against the fact that the data that Google had on their PC users meant that they had the best hand when it came to websites that used ads to make money.
  • Microsoft fought to get on to the Google PC: Microsoft sued to have access to the Google PC so they could have Microsoft Office, one of their main revenue strands installed but Google pointed out, these were just dumb terminals and gave them access to the API they gave everyone else access to. Everyone, even the Google web apps had the same rights.
  • Microsoft Passport: Microsoft finally did more with their Passport after years of dithering. Years! While Passport was tied into their Hotmail/Live system and had access to some profiles, the profiles were inaccurate to a large degree. Microsoft altered that when the Google PC came about. They too tried to sign deals with telcos to do the same and even though they were on the desktop of the majority of net users, they never got traction. When Google released Google OS for those with existing computers, it was another nail in Microsoft’s coffin. It was ironic that Microsoft already had their own PC in millions of homes already (the XBox) and while had some great ideas for the XBox love system, they never considered doing this.

Google Vs Facebook
While the Google PC gave Google back more of the share of online advertising, Facebook and their own advertising system still had a very strong hand and their years of profile data from their now 200Million users meant they’re offering was equally as strong. Their ad and search system had long since moved outside of Facebook and was used on millions of websites which allowed ad networks and individual websites to target Facebook users (as the ad system knew exactly the consumer type visiting your site) and non-Facebook users too (using some very clever statistical analysis techniques, crossed with FB data). Contrary to what people first thought, the Microsoft deal from 2007 did not give Microsoft anything more than early access to the Facebook web advertising system. The 240Million was nothing more than hello money. All in all both companies, while not delighted with the competition from each other still increased their revenues every quarter as more and more of their competitors withered and died and Television and Print advertising plummeted as advertisers moved almost entirely online.

Check out some of the crazy bad reporting about a Google PC.

15 Responses to “The Google PC future? Free PCs and broadband from Google”

  1. Keith says:

    Would be great from the POV of getting broadband and PCs into every home in the country.
    Would be bad in terms of competition. But what competition do we have now? MS versus who?
    Interesting thoughts anyway. Add in the Google ‘mobile package’ to the phone/internet/PC linkup, add in Grand Central, and you’ve got a single point of contact too (i.e. one phone number that rings your mobile or your landline, routes international calls for next to no cost, one voicemail box, etc, etc)

  2. Tom Young says:

    Damien, the Microsoft judgement is worth a view to be honest. It says know your market.


  3. […] at this, Damien writes a post and a company by the name of Ace Internet Marketing copies the full article and posts it on its […]

  4. […] today Damien made a pretty interesting furutistic post on the GoogleNet and […]

  5. mj says:

    I get the feeling this hardware is already out there in he shape of the Mac mini and AppleTV and all you would need would be some massive collaboration between Apple and Google. Isn’t the CEO of Google on Apple’s board? Didn’t Google agree to recode Youtube in H264 for the AppleTV and iPhone? Wasn’t Google the only company in the world outside of Apple to have access to the iPhone SDK before the iPhone’s launch?

    Oh yeah…

  6. Emmet says:

    Just to focus in on the hardware aspect of this, I think you’re totally right that stripped-down PCs are going to be the big trend in the future. There’s no need for the capabilities that are provided by Moore’s Law to keep being reflected in personal computers, especially since we’re effectively outsourcing most of our processing work to centralised servers now. As MJ says, the Mac Mini (although sadly now discontinued) was probably an early leader here.

    While we’re predicting though, my guess is that the PC of the future won’t have a built-in HD at all — on the rare occasions that you need local storage, just plug in a nice big USB key. Other that that, store everything online. You might be interested in checking out Linutop (and my post about it), a low-power Linux computer that kind of fits this description.

  7. mj says:

    Hi Emmet,
    The Mac mini is not …ahem… discontinued. And the AppleTV probably represents more of the “thin client” that Damien was suggesting.

    That said – the only time I would consider a machine without multi-GB internal storage would be the day I sign up with a telco I can trust.

  8. Agree with previous comments about how the Google PC you describe sounds a bit like the Mac Mini – although a lot cheaper. For some disturbing reason I also get visions of an Amstrad (but from a company with a lot more style and money).

  9. Damien says:

    The issue with anything Mac is they will not allow it to be given away for free. Same as the iPhone. Google will release specs for mobiles and get someone to build them for as cheap as possible but Apple will never go for that. Cheapen their brand!

  10. mj says:

    The problem with your “vision”, Damien, is that it isn’t new. CHRP, Amiga….and others tried to give away designs but where’s the advantage of freely available hardware designs? No advantage to the hardware manufacturer for sure.

    Google won’t. Trust me.

  11. […] Perhaps it will help fuel the Google global conquest that Damien has predicted. […]

  12. You don’t need a computer in the house to actualise this vision. You simply need a compact black box that plugs into your broadband connection. The black box houses the Google Personal Connection, updates itself dynamically and links over DECT to a handheld device that you prefer. Make mine the DECT/IR remote controller that ports data onto my television via smart SCART. These components already work inside the Nokia connected home which means they could be easily rebranded with the Google Personal Connection logo.

  13. mj says:

    Bernie: That’s a computer. Just a thin one

  14. mj says:

    I’m prepared to eat a side-order of Crow but not a full portion.

    “Google today announced its long-awaited initiative for mobile phones, aiming to overturn the traditionally closed approach to cellphone software design. Now called the Open Handset Alliance, the push will see 34 different companies working together to create an open-source software platform that takes away licensing fees while adding the ability to easily modify code for new devices or features. Handset makers HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung have all pledged to implement the software as part of the group; the Alliance also includes key cellular carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile in the US, Europe’s Telefonica, and Japan’s KDDI and NTT DoCoMo. Several component makers including Broadcom, Intel, and Qualcomm are also onboard, Google says.
    The platform itself, nicknamed “Android,” will be Linux-based and will include several of Google’s mobile services; unlike other mobile operating systems, however, the OS will not be branded or charge users for each program. The Mountain View, California-based company will instead collect revenues from ads that appear on Android phones.

    A software development kit (SDK) for programmers interested in writing programs for Open Handset Alliance phones will be available within a week and should give programmers an early start on writing interfaces and applications. This already includes support for touchscreens, GPS, and other hardware features, and can merge information from Google apps with other utilities; a social networking tool can use Google Maps to locate nearby friends, as an example. Phones shipping with the technology are expected in the second half of 2008 but have not been mentioned by name.”

  15. […] had previously claimed that Google will release specs for mobiles and get someone to build them for as cheap as possible. That’s not exactly what’s happening here. Google is building an advertising platform […]