Chrome OS: from Personal Computer to Personal Computing. A matter of trust.

On Thurs 19/11, BigG released Google Chromium Source code to community while hosting an announcement/demo event.

Parallerly some high level architectural description has been as well released and the greater focus has been undubtably put to security concepts and browser role.

The leading concepts that inspired Google when conceiving Chrome Os leaves little open to the discussion and starts from  the overall assumption that Chrome Os will be something new and, radically, different.

The approach of realizing something so new and push it so aggressively on the market can be considered fool (if you think how different will this be from any former commercial OS existing) or, at least,  very ambitious.

Consciously enough, Big G embraced the open source model to develop this assett even if the whole licensing policy it’s not so clear, at least to me, up to now (anyway, it should be a mix of GPL for Linux kernel derivative/mixed part such as the window manager and BSD, as formerly adopted for Chrome).

The experience matured with Android demonstrated Google that commoditizing the OS and reducing BOM is the main road to create a special feeling with hardware vendors and ensure radical penetration of the OS in hardware vendors roadmaps (for those non deeply inside the mobile market, expect a 2010 full of Robots outside).

But, at the end, given that is also very well backed in terms of investments and market strategy, will it become “the new thing” as expected by much?

Chrome OS introduces lots of radical technology changes as well as some cultural ones. The fact that Chrome Os is actually a commodity to users and vendors, leaves, as said, Big G a big design freedom that, eventually, will transform the user in what really was meant to be from the start.

In fact, if the high level suggestions will be confirmed, you’ll no more be able to completely admin your computer (that is no more a “personal” physical thing): it’s actually Google, to ensure that your security and the compelling performances promised are granted, controlling the machine that runs your “personal session“. User and applications will be sandboxed, updates will be forced and signed (trusted) where considered radically needed.

To do this, Google will follow a streamlined paradigm that has been embraced, if not invented, by Apple for the iPhone: controlling what runs on your machine with certified apps (only one in case of Chrome Os actually, the browser) will grant security and performance requirements.

If they will succeed to create a convincing new user experience there’s a big chance that Chrome Os, as happened to iPhone os, will be a substantial success.

At one point, the question:

“will user give up desktop applications?”

is, IMHO, quiet old fashioned by itself. I mean, who’s a user? we have plenty of users neither knowing what a “desktop application” is! …the parallel to iPhone is back again: most of the iPhone users bought this as the first smartphone in their life and discovered the “mobile connected life” just thanks to buying  an iPhone for it’s status symbol appeal.

Many people only use a browser all day (e.g terminal operators); sometimes they also use an office automation suite (already migrated to good web implementation); few of us use the so called “desktop apps” for two main use cases:

  • computing intensive operations, typical to a workstation user
  • apps needing to access device hardware

While for the first topic grid\nw computing solutions are well trained (think to Citrix Xen), the second one is one of the key innovation points expected to be improved by Google Chrome OS itself being also a potential reason of instability.

Transforming Chrome OS from a niche product to the new standard will be a hard but not impossible move, depending on how much of the entire technology megatrends have been intercepted by Google product thinkers.

In case they’ll succeed this will be probably fatal to a huge number of the “old world” technologies. We’ll forget Java and interpreted languages on clients;  untrusted computing will be outdated as well in favour of sandboxing; distributed peer to peer systems as we know it  will probably disappear  (maybe I’m a bit radical on this) thanks to the central role of networks resident data.

The process of shifting user ownership from the piece of metal (personal computer) to the  sensible data and computing sessions (personal computing) will eventually get onto subsidizing the Hardware via ads: is data lock in being important to Google, they’re open to pay you a pc in change of hosting your data.

Do you trust them?


About meedabyte

Strategist, Consultant and Collaborative Pathfinder

One comment

  1. Pingback: Where is the Tablet market going? «

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