Google Mystery Barge Keeps Everyone Guessing

Google Mystery Barge Keeps Everyone Guessing

Google has everyone guessing this week by building a mystery barge out in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.  What’s it there for?  What does Google plan to do with it?  Details are few and far between.  All that is known right now is that the barge is indeed being operated by Google and the project is being kept under wraps.  And those at Google are being very tight lipped.

The amount of interest that has been generated this past week is staggering.  It was initially speculated that it was going to be a floating data center.  Theories of a prior Google patent for a data center floating somewhere in the water and possibly using water as a cooling source abounded.

This weekend it is being reported that the barge could very well be a floating store used to sell the popular Google Glass, Google’s internet eyewear.  With a similar barge being built in Portland, Maine the new theory is that the company wanted to be able to move the store from shore to shore, anchoring the barge in nearby cities.  Sources say that the floating facility is being constructed from shipping containers that are interchangeable, thus giving it the ability to be disassembled and then transported via a train or barge to various locations.   This sounds like a plausible explanation, if not somewhat unrealistic.

Two similar barges have been spotted in the past week, ever since the mysterious barge was first seen docked at a Treasure Island Pier, slightly east of San Francisco.  All of them have been labeled with the letters “BAL” and a series of numbers.  This may be a shout out to the corporation “By And Large” from the Disney Pixar movie, ‘Wall-E.’

The U.S. Coast Guard has indeed confirmed that it is currently working with the owners of the barge to assure that the mysterious structures have acquired the permits and permissions necessary for it to be operational in the Bay.  But they too are being tight lipped as to the primary reason the floating barge has suddenly turned up.  In fact, it is being reported that they had to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the developer forbidding them from mentioning anything about the project.  However, an official with the Coast Guard has confirmed that Google is responsible for the barge.

The barge itself runs several hundred feet long and is several dozen feet high.  It is said that the floating complex had been initially put together in New London, Connecticut, before being towed to Portland, Maine for additional fittings.

Roger Kay, a Technology Analyst, and president of Endpoint Technology Associates, has his own theory for all the secrecy.  He claims that Google is merely taking a page from Apple’s book by building a mysterious buzz and not letting everyone in on the secret.  But he hopes that he is wrong.  Kay says he would much rather see Google utilize the barges to develop some earth shattering breakthrough that would be worthy of all the hype.

Could the Google mystery barge that has been keeping everyone guessing be a floating store?  Perhaps.  As the internet giant readies to sell more products, including the Google Glass, additional retail executives have been hired.  Can they possibly compete with Apple’s glass and chrome retail stores?  That is another mystery entirely.

By Mary Kay Love

Boston Globe

Seattle Times


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