Robert X. Cringely is at it again with his speculations about where Google is going, this time predicting that the giant search firm also plans to penetrate the home with a plug-and-play VOIP/Internet/TV devices. Great idea. But I don't think Google plans to do this themselves. I think they plan to do it in conjunction with Apple's new TV-based computer, currently expected in January or so.
Why do I think this? Because Apple already has much of the device that Cringely is projecting done and in the market -- it's called an Airport Express. And Apple was one of the first big users of Akamai's network when it was launched to deliver early Quicktime content, so they know the power of computer-mediated distribution. And Apple would fit nicely into the alliances Google needs to fend off Microsoft; after all, I don't think Apple is about to sign up to to distribute iTunes video through MSN or Windows Live.
One thing's for sure: Next year is going to be a very interesting one for the computer business, digital media, and telecom. And the hard thing about it is that most of the big players are going to be in more than one category at once.