Google At CES: Video and Software But No PC


Google launched two flashy new services Friday -- one for computer maintenance and one for on-demand, premium video -- in a move that positions the Mountain View, Calif.-based company as a link between the tech world and the entertainment industry.

In a speech at the International CES show in Las Vegas, Google co-founder Larry Page dropped both announcements while declining to comment on an audience question about when a Google PC and operating system would be available.

Page took the wraps off Google Pack, a suite of software including Adobe Reader 7, Ad-Aware SE personal, Norton Antivirus 2005 Special Edition and several Google applications. Google is making the software available for download at pack.google.com.

"There's lots of software on PCs," Page said. "I installed a printer, and installed 400 mb of software on my machine. I think it's very difficult in this day and age to keep your computer maintained, to keep the right software on it."

But, like many of the 200,000 others who attended CES this week, Page also focused much of his attention on non-PC devices. Among other things, he demonstrated a car dashboard that includes a touch-screen-capable version of Google Earth, the satellite imaging application that, Page showed, can help guide drivers from location to location using high-resolution photos of the surroundings.

"You have all these devices at CES," Page said. "They have screens and keyboards, and outputs and inputs, but they don't really connect to each other," Page said, recalling his first trip to the CES electronics show a few years earlier. "As I was walking around, I was really struck by that."

In unveiling Google Pack and Google Video Store -- an on-demand, pay-per-view video service that will include independent programming as well as content from the CBS network -- Page emphasized Google's efforts to make it all work on any device with Internet access. He said Google Video Store is tied to Google's own digital rights management (DRM) technology.

Page's keynote at CES comes in the middle of a convention week that has emphasized the convergence of IP-based and computer-based technologies with always-on, portable and high-definition media. It also came two days after Bill Gates, chairman of Google rival Microsoft, announced his company's own new content initiatives including an on-demand music service with MTV Networks and showed off the forthcoming Vista operating system that integrates new features like tabbed browsing and RSS functions.

Like other keynote speakers, Page didn't disappoint the crowd when it came to bringing star power with him to the stage. During his presentation, Page enlisted comic actor Robin Williams to act out as the "Google Brain" and provide improvisation during a question-and-answer session between the audience and Page.