Speculation Swirls Around Giant Google Barges on SF Bay

Google owns the barges, CNET says -- but for what purpose?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Whatever the purpose of the barge floating in San Francisco Bay may be, it is almost certainly Google's.

    Floating store, floating data center, or some other yet-theorized floating mystery?

    Whatever the purpose of the barge floating in San Francisco Bay may be, it is almost certainly Google's.

    And Google isn't saying, according to multiple reports.

    The barge in question is a large, four-story-tall pile of what appear to be shipping containers, according to CNET.

    The barge appeared sometime last week moored to Treasure Island, midway between San Francisco and Oakland, in the middle of the bay.

    While Google's name isn't printed on it, the company's "fingerprints" are all over it, noted the New York Times, including strong links between the company that owns the barges, called "By and Large LLC," and a real estate firm that does work exclusively for Google.

    Plenty rumors have swirled since the barge was first noticed. Some theorize it's a giant floating store for Google Glass, which Google could then sail from city to city -- in an effort to not appear like they're ripping off Apple and its stores, according to CNET.

    If that's true, Google "whiffed on a key detail" -- the barge has no permit to dock in San Francisco, and environmental officials are also refusing to give Google permission to do on the Bay what they should be doing on land, Business Insider reported.

    The theory on the data center may have legs -- at least, it's been the one with the longest histoy. Unnamed engineers told CNET that Google had long been planning to create backup data centers in case of a disaster -- a theory bolstered, partly, by an identical barge under construction in Portland, Maine's harbor.

    Notoriously cagey Google -- secretive for, say, the world's biggest search engine -- won't respond to requests for comment. Which means the barge is almost certainly theirs, CNET reported.

    Whatever they plan to do with it, it's achieved incredibly publicity -- especially for a "secret facility."