RealTime IT News

Dell, Google Take The Plunge

The long-rumored Google-Dell partnership is official.

Google confirmed an agreement today that Dell will preload Google Desktop and Toolbar on its PCs, as well as add Google Search to the Internet Explorer 6 side pane.

The two companies will also offer a co-branded homepage, which new Dell customers will default to during their first visit to the Web.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While primarily targeted at the millions of Dell consumer customers, Google said the deal extends to systems Dell will sell to small-to-medium size business customers and select enterprise customers on a global basis.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed the deal in a webcast today. For the enterprise, Schmidt said Dell has been a pioneer in "filling out the Windows platform" and giving corporate customers a pre-installed image of the software they want.

Schmidt said if any enterprise customers don't want the Google software they are free to not have it installed.

Back in February, Dell first confirmed it was testing Google software for installation on its consumer desktop computers

A Dell spokesman said the company actually began testing how it might use Google software back in December.

"This isn't surprising," Richard Shim, senior research analyst at IDC, told internetnews.com. "The desktop is becoming more of a digital billboard into the homes of consumers. For Dell this makes total sense and I'm sure other PC manufacturers will follow." .

"Even if it's a few dollars per PC, that's a goldmine for Dell," Roger Kay, analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, told internetnews.com. "PC makers are fighting to save even pennies on component parts."

Microsoft has been the dominant presence on PC desktops for years, with its Windows logo showing at startup, Internet Explorer browser and Office software.

Google recently complained to the Department of Justice (DoJ) about MSN being the default search feature in Internet Explorer, but the DoJ dismissed the complaint, noting it's easy enough for users to switch to other search options, including Google.

Kay said even though the DoJ was criticized for a relative slap on the wrist of Microsoft in the company's landmark antitrust case, the decision effectively opened up the PC desktop to other players.

"Google and its competitors are definitely emboldened by the DoJ's decision," said Kay. "In the old days it was Microsoft saying the desktop was our real estate, and the PC makers didn't like that. Now they have more opportunity."

Dell's long been considered the poster child for WinTel systems, but it's been venturing beyond that turf in recent years. Along with support for Linux, Dell recently announced plans to ship its first system based on AMD processors (a multiprocessor server) later this year.