'Cheap' Google PC threat to Microsoft
Ailish O'Hora SEARCH giant Google is expected to announce an assault on PC manufacturers with the introduction of a cheaper entry-level PC, a move that would mark its most adventurous expansion to date.
Google co-founder and president Larry Page could use his scheduled keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas later this week to either unveil a Google computer, or announce a deal with a major retailer, likely to be Wal-Mart, to distribute a low-cost machine.
According to reports in the US, the Google computer, which would be a basic model, could retail at as little as $100, but would use its own operating system and not Microsoft Windows.
There has been speculation that the company has had negotiations with US-based Wyse Technology to provide the hardware.
Google is taking Microsoft head-on - its search engine, for example, is now far more popular than MSN.
With a limited computer terminal in the new PC, it is expected that much of the processing power would be supplied by a central network from which users could access applications such as word-processor or spreadsheet.
One of the advantages of such a network structure, which is already in use, would be a reduction in computer virus risks, although the control Google would have over the network could reignite privacy concerns aired with the launch of Gmail, Google's email service, which monitors messages to place appropriate advertisements alongside them.
Other criticisms included the impact of a relatively unknown operating system.
For example, Microsoft's Windows operating software is installed on about 90pc of desktop PCs.
Shares in Google opened the year's trading earlier this week in buoyant mode on speculation over the announcement and a note from broker Poper Jaffray which lifted its price target for the search engine to $600 from $445.
The note said Google was an industry definer following in the footsteps of Microsoft and eBay.
Google shares were up 2¼pc at $445.15 in closing Nasdaq trade yesterday.