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March 16, 2006

Google + Wyse = Goobuntu?

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Yes, we’re back to the Goobuntu rumors. But are they rumors or on their way to reality? According to Wyse Technology, the leading thin-client manufacturer, they are already in talks with Google and Yahoo for the design of low-priced computers. We cry Goobuntu!

Wyse told the Silicon Valley Watcher that Google and Yahoo are interested in using low-priced PC-compatible computers to reach millions of users in developing countries. So is Goobuntu the $100 laptop project that’s been all over the forums? Or is that project just a test run for Google’s ultimate destination – a Google-based operating system to include Writely, GDrive, Gmail, CL2 and other applications? Probably the latter, or at least that’s what Search Engine Journal is hypothesizing.

For those unfamiliar, the $100 laptop project was developed by MIT with Google’s (among others) backing. The goal is to provide free machines to children in third world countries who cannot afford computers of their own. The computers involve a ‘hand crank’ to generate power and lack many features found on a typical personal computer, such as a hard disk. The charitable project was mocked Tuesday by the richest human in the world, Bill Gates:

“The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk… and with a tiny little screen… geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to type.”

He’s just jealous. Poor Origami. Regardless of Gates’ opinion, the low-cost computers could be a logical next step for Google to expand their reach. SEJ hypothesizes Google’s recent acquisitions:

1. Low cost computers that don’t have big hard drives (say the $100 laptop or similar device)
2. Ubiquitous high-speed access (see GoogleNet or FON)
3. Web-based consumer software apps (e.g., GMail or Writely)
4. Virtually unlimited personal online storage (GDrive)”

Well that does sound like a Google operating system to me, or at least a ‘compelling roadmap’ for things to come. Is the $100 laptop project the first step to Goobuntu? Maybe. Of course Google denies all rumors of a Google-based operating system and laughed at the mention of Goobuntu. But then why the pairing with Wyse? And why did they steal Microsoft architect Marc Lucovsky last year? Goobuntu!

I think it’s in the works. Or at least I hope it is, and so far I like what I’m hearing — a low-cost computer already equipped with Google software. Sounds like a dream. Granted it couldn’t run on a hand-crank but that’s a design issue and design issues can be changed. The release of such a computer would surely knock Microsoft of the map as the primary platform, if Bill Gates’ latest PR moves don’t do it for them. Keep your fingers crossed. Goobuntu!

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