I recently read many skeptical posts re Google’s announcement about Google Chrome OS. That was not a big news in itself since, for those that occasionally ended up on www.thinkgos.com page in the last few months, an official announcement of a Google service proposition optimized OS for thin clients was quite obvious.
Most common complaints about the potential success of Chrome OS are related to Google OS strategy (claimed to be conflicting and confused) and potential (Android considered not such good) and to Google business proposition for the OS market (claimed to be a pure anti-Microsoft move).
I’ll try to give my views about this couple of topics:
- Android and Chrome OS will be conflicting or it means that Android doesn’t work
Apart from the never ending list of names used to identify the new devices that are finding their place in the consumer electronic market (MIDs, netbooks, nettops, touchbooks, smartbooks…and counting) there is one thing to keep in mind about that: they’re different from a phone (even the smarter phone on earth).
Those differences are mainly based on the concept of a phone itself: portable, small, lightweight, handy.
You’ll newer see a smartphone with a 13 inches display since it doesn’t fit in your pocket, as well as you’ll newer use a mouse on your smartphone and while you can use touch input on both, your fingertips meet differently with so different (in size) screens.
At the end smartphones are for mobile users while *books (let’s call it like that) are for nomadic users. This end up in very different usage patterns, that may intersect sometimes, but are not overlapped (while you can think to wrote a document snippet on a smartphone – I’m doing this right now – you probably won’t write a presentation or code on it)
Every industry insider can tell you that Android is an hi-quality OS for smartphones, the result of a long term Google strategy (started in2005 with Google’s Android company acquisition) that is expected to perform well in terms of numbers in 2H09 an 2010.
On the other hand, nobody prevents Chrome OS to be able to run dalvik jvm based applications. We’ve heard of Ubuntu running android applications so why Chrome OS won’t?
At the end I think that Android and Chrome OS will not conflict.
- It’s an anti-Microsoft move
There’s someone saying that Chrome OS will not work since it’s a clear anti microsoft move with the only aim of cutting market shares from the Redmond guys. Michael Mace from Mobile Opportunity says:
If you’re really serious about running a logical OS program in its own right, you’d try to rationalize those two things. But if your top priority is to commoditize Microsoft, then you don’t mind pushing out a couple of overlapping initiatives.
First, it should be noticed that Ms market share is falling without any help from Google guys. Apart from the well known US vs Microsoft antitrust case, see here for details, that certainly shows how, in some ways, Microsoft managed to keep its market dominance; Windows is now the consumer desktop\laptop market leader mostly due a couple of reasons. Ms competitors have formerly been:
- a consciously niche vendor (Apple)
- few players not comparable in terms of r&d investments: Linux distributors like mandriva or canonical.
Furthermore, we’ve been used, over the desktop market, to see the Linux community struggling to replicate the windows experience and applications suites (see Openoffice or Gimp story).
Now the landscape is definitively different: Google has a new vision and goes towards a brand new concept of OS, targeted for an emerging market, cheaper, more in line with the exploding user base of the Internet natives.
Someone can say: “…hey it’s just the thin client we’re talking about since years!”; yes but now there’s Google and a clear productization and market strategy: free software, preloaded and backed by many big Computer firms, targeted directly to customers (BigG2C).
Jason Hiner at ZDNEt says that it’s too late since Windows 7 will be out and will be rocking hard at the time when Google Chrome OS will be released. It should be noted that Windows 7 is a retreat, is a simplified version of an ugly and heavyweight (fat?) OS wich many decided to downgrade from, that didn’t introduce any new high level views and concepts.
Chrome OS has been targeted to an emerging market (and user base) share, the *books, needing a web centered and cheaper OS (why call a windows xp equipped small notebook a netbook???). Is a result of a long term vision introduced by Google since years (Google has been pioneering the consumer cloud service market, remember gmail was born years ago) and, seems to me – thinking to gos – the final result of long term strategies and efforts.
To me this means only one thing: Microsoft is now a follower in the thin client *book optimized market. Furthermore Google is a web native company, someone thinks Google IS the web.
To be true I think that Microsoft should start worrying because, apart from the Google thing threat on the consumer oriented thin client market, also in the heavyweight/expensiveHW OS market there is an angry competitor, with a fantastic brand, sales going well (surely better than MS), and , not to be underestimated, sharing a board member with BigG (Eric Schmidt).
On this topic it’s also worth to read this from Matt Asay that recalls a WSJ article about a potential Cold War between BigG and Ms. Althought the hypothesis is fascinating (anyone noticed the not so strange Bing->ChromeOS timeline?) I don’t believe to it.
At this stage I see a future proof company that is leading the ideas landscape (who’s not eager to see Google Wave? which, to quote M. Asay, “…promises to put Google, not Microsoft, in control of the future “office productivity” market.”) and, on the other side, a follower company, that spent the last 2 years rebuilding an inefficient OS and literally copying and re-branding a search engine.
If there’s a war between Ms and BigG, maybe someone should realize that this war is over.