Google OS Makes Sense, Creates Problems

Picture 4Google Apps, Google browser, Android . . . Chrome OS. As most of you know by now, Google announced a full-blown operating system for netbooks and PCs:

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve . . .

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

Quick thoughts:

  • Until people see and evaluate the OS no real assessments can be made of its prospects but Android suggests it will be solid and viable
  • Accordingly this potentially gives MSFT a real run for its money (literally) in the netbook segment — the only healthy segment of the PC market. Could also eventually go “upstream” and challenge on laptops/PCs but that’s farther off and much more speculative.
  • Google now is almost a complete alternative to MSFT (OS, apps, mobile, browser)
  • Open source code (like Android) means that netbook OEMs will probably use Chrome to boost margins (if only a very little)
  • The move is logical because Chrome (the browser) was a kind of OS or platform for developers and apps development. Android is an OS but perhaps not technically “robust” enough for netbooks and certainly not full PCs
  • Chrome the OS will be deeply integrated with the browser experience and try to create a more seamless online-PC experience. Google made much of HTML 5 in the browser and what it could do — not quite enough it would seem, however.
  • Apple and Google are now true competitors across a broader range of fronts. Google is very much like Microsoft now in many respects. It’s only a matter of time before Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be compelled by investors or regulators to depart the Apple board (the DOJ is looking into the two common Apple, Google directors)
  • Even though there’s nothing explicitly anti-competitive here — in fact it makes the OS market more competitive — Google makes its position potentially more difficult with regulators simply because the company spans several key market segments and is using their integration to maintain leadership (though not illegally) in search online and extend it to mobile

You can read the scores of posts on Techmeme.

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Agree with Henry Blodget’s remark about Chrome:

If Google wants to succeed in its boldest product launch to date, the Chrome OS, the company needs to focus on its success with the same intensity it once dedicated to search.

If it doesn’t, Chrome OS will end up just like Chrome: yet another irrelevant skunkworks project used by a handful of digerati and Microsoft-haters and ignored by everyone else.

Not sure that the criticism of Chrome the browser is fair yet. But Google’s “if we build it they will come” attitude more often than not has lead to products falling short of their potential. But Android success suggests that if Chrome the OS is good OEMs will use it.

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6 Responses to “Google OS Makes Sense, Creates Problems”

  1. philipobrien Says:

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to draw the line between OS and window manager. From the original announcement: “The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel”. SO is this a new OS or a new WM?

    How tightly integrated can the browser be with the kernel? Maybe its just a spruced up version of a maximized browser with no minimize button and other system-level hooks removed.

    I guess by this argument Apple’s Mac OS X is really just a sexy WM running on top of a BSD layer. Ubuntu is a “Linux Distribution” since its simply GDM and Metacity bundled with Linux 2.6-ish. The Linux kernel in “Google Chrome OS” is still doing all the work of file management, interrupts, networking below the application layer, scheduling, multiplexing, etc.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Can’t agree or disagree re the technical piece. Beyond my expertise.

  3. Krishna Santani Says:

    Its groundbreaking idea from Google web OS and they are planning to wipe out Windows in a most strategic manner. Google clearly pointing to Microsoft when they say “The operating systems that browsers run were designed in an era where there was no web”. But there are few questions which are unanswered like what will happen when we will go offline in Chrome OS? Can we use offline applications like iTunes or Photoshop? Can we run third party applications? How they are going to make profit from it ? I am also bit concerned whether Chrome OS will be embraced by enterprises as it is open source and web based as there is always a security issue….Just wait another thought can Chrome OS will become a global hit especially in small countries where internet is very fickle. But leaving these things aside its going to be win-win situation for the users and it will be interesting to witness the war between giants.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    It is very interesting. I have limited understanding of the technical side of this so can’t comment. We’ll see how good it is when people start to get a look at it.

  5. SkaPC Says:

    > yet another irrelevant skunkworks project used by a handful of digerati and Microsoft-haters and ignored by everyone else.

    Just like Firefox.

    > Google’s “if we build it they will come” attitude more often than not has lead to products falling short of their potential.

    Just like Gmail.

  6. philipobrien Says:

    “Just like Firefox”

    Seriously? I would say 22.5 % of the market is more than relevant and larger than a ‘handful’: http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0

    “Google’s “if we build it they will come” attitude more often than not has lead to products falling short of their potential”

    So… prototyping? Not every product skyrockets, but then you do get Google Maps, Gmail, Google Search, Google Wave, … Just about every successful company does this from the pre-recession auto industry, to search engines, to toothbrush manufacturers. Everyone but pharmaceuticals perhaps :)

    “Just like Gmail”

    What??? Have you even used Gmail? Its faster than any other web-based mail client and integrates seemlessly with Google Calendar, Groups, Docs, images, etc., imports and exports in several file types, has smooth intuitive navigation and interface components.

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