Remember the Google barge that landed in the Portland Harbor last year? Speculation started swirling the moment it appeared, and some later documentation pointed to Google as the owner of the barge.
Google didn’t tell much at the time, but said that the barge would be used to showcase new technology: “A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology,” Google responded some months ago.
So this week’s news about the 63-container Portland barge having been sold, after Google had paid Cianbro Corp. to transform it using some of the latest technology, brings what many considered to be something new and exciting to a bad end.
The Google barge was purchased by an international shipping company (no name given), but the shipping containers will be scrapped and their metal will be used for various purposes. Just this week, the Google barge was driven from Rickers Wharf Marine Facility to Turner’s Island Cargo Terminal in South Portland to prepare it for international purchase and shipping.
Since Google once had plans for the barge, what happened? Some say that Google planned to use it to showcase Google Glass – though the company’s been in pursuit of convincing most consumers that Glass isn’t just a geek’s favorite gadget. At the same time, however, Google never said much about the space except that it would be used for some sort of gadget exhibit. Apparently, Google no longer has plans for it, seeing that the $400,000 in property taxes is nothing short of small change for a company that’s worth billions.
The Google barge will forever remain a mystery to many of us, seeing that we still don’t know the specific purposes for which Google intended to use it. At the same time, however, we must keep in mind that Google is first and foremost a technology company (despite its search giant status) and often starts tech projects only to turn around and “scrap” them (pun intended) when the company’s eyes get turned on to something bigger and better. Perhaps the fees and property taxes were money being taken away from other causes, and that’s why Google got rid of the barge.
At the end of the day, we’ll never know. What we wonder about is whether or not Google’s short-term experiments like the Rickers Wharf barge are similar to what many have accused Samsung of: trying out experiments to see what sticks.
It’d be nice to see Google buy a “barge” (metaphorically speaking), pay property taxes, state the purpose for it, and make the goal reality. Hopefully, the next “barge” will be a bit luckier than this one – whatever it may be.