Last month, I highlighted the fact that Google cofounder Larry Page was doing a keynote at this week's Consumer Electronics Show. Consumer electronics? What consumer electronics does Google have? How about a "Google Cube" personal computer, running Google's own operating system, that you can pick up at your local Wal-Mart? Via Threadwatch, that's what the LA Times is reporting in Industry Feeling Presence of the 800-Pound Google.
According to unnamed sources, Google has been negotiating with Wal-Mart and other retailers to carry a low-cost, Windows-free computer. The "Google Cubes" name? That comes from a separate Bear Stearns report that the paper cites, where the analyst firm said Google would roll out not a computer but rather a hardware device for moving media between computers and TVs. Further speculation by unnamed analysts is that whatever Google Cubes or cube-like devices are, Page will reveal all at CES.
I suspect that the Bear Stearns report is really coming off of The Google Box from Robert X. Cringely at PBS, from late November. In that column, he describes "Google Cubes" as a hardware device the company was thinking of giving consumers, to work as an interface between all types of electronic devices in a home. One chief reason he saw as distributing these cheaply was to help consumers get going with various broadband-enabled services, such as video on demand or voice-over-IP.
Speculation that Google is planning its own operating system or browser has been going on for ages. If you are a Search Engine Watch member, our Google: Browser and Google: Operating System categories have past stories on these topics.
Also see Google CEO: The Next Killer Device Is A GooglePod from over a year ago, where Google CEO Eric Schmidt talked about wanting an iPod-like device with all the world's information on it -- or at least a wireless connection to something that has all that information (perhaps Google itself?).