Google is reportedly in talks with Wal-Mart to sell an inexpensive computer, with the hardware being provided by Wyse and Google bringing in the software.
Thin client vendor Wyse Technology Inc. is the latest name to arise among the rumors of a low-cost Google-branded PC.
Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page is scheduled to deliver a keynote address Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Law Vegas, and the speculation is that he will unveil the Mountain View, Calif., companys plans for an inexpensive computer, priced at around $200.
The Internet giant reportedly is in talks with retailer Wal-Mart Inc. to sell the PCs, with the hardware being provided by Wyse and Google bringing in the software.
Wyse President and CEO John Kish mentioned during a presentation at the Red Herring Fall 2005 conference last month that his company was in discussions with Google focusing on a $200 PC that would be targeted at developing markets such as China and India, part of Wyses greater push to bring technology to such countries.
Googles reported negotiations with Wal-Mart suggest a plan to sell such systems not only in emerging markets but also in such countries as the United States.
Kish also commented on the synergy between the two companies related to Googles development of a software stack to compete with Microsoft Corp. Wyse declined to elaborate.
Bob ODonnell, an analyst with IDC, said such a pairing would make sense, given the trends within the technology industry.
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In particular, the growth of high-speed broadband for Internet access and of wireless networks in the home, as well as the rise of low-cost but capable processing power and applications delivered via the Web, all point to such a solution.
"You put all the pieces together and using a thin-client type of device makes a lot of sense," said ODonnell, who is attending CES.
"Its the perfect second or third PC for the home. Its not going to be your primary PC, but think of all the time you spend just surfing the Web or sending e-mail. Now you can do this with no Windows configurations, and it doesnt crash or give you the blue screen."
Google has been a strong proponent of software being delivered via the Web, and the companys applications, such as Google Maps and Gmail e-mail product, dont demand a lot of processing power.
The company also has built up a huge server farm over the years, giving it a lot of processing power on hand.
"Yes, they need a lot of it for search, but they can use some of this for something else," ODonnell said.
For its part, Wyse has been at the forefront of server-based computing for years, giving it an expertise in building smaller, low-cost devices.
Thin clients put the key components usually found on the PCsuch as the processor, memory and hard driveonto a centrally located back-end server, improving manageability and security.
Since Kish took over as CEO in April, the San Jose, Calif., company has been putting a more of an emphasis on software that enables greater security and a better user experience.
It also has increased its partnerships with larger players such as Computer Associates International Inc., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc.
Wyse also is partnering with chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in a program to bring affordable Internet accessibility to half of the worlds population by 2015, Kish said in an interview with eWEEK.com in November.
Wyse is supplying the terminals for the initiative, he said.
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