Chrome OS Factsheet, Why its Relevant and Irrelevant

Chrome OS is now the hottest things over the internet. Earlier a wrote an article that gave the Verdict on chrome OS.

Taking a step ahead, let’s take a look at the few Facts we know about the Chrome OS at this point.  Later, we will look at the reasons why it can Matter for you and the reasons why it may turn out to be Irrelevant for rest of us.

Fact List:

  • Segment Targetting: It will be Targetting primarily at Netbooks, and eventually, Notebooks, Desktops in later half of 2010.
  • Architecture: It will run with a Linux kernel as its core. On boot, it will directly go into the Chrome Web browser
  • Platform: It will run on both x86 and ARM processors. On the Graphics side, Nvidia is excited about it & AMD’s ATI Graphics support/interest is still unknown.
  • Key Features: The Top 3 Features will be 3S Strategy. “Speed, Security and Simplicity”. It will encourage cloud, and will not probably need to have local storage i.e. diskless, thin clients. All the user data/docs will be stored in the Google cloud. Small local SSD may though be used.
  • Developers: Google will not entertain software Native Application Development on Chrome OS; Rather, they encourage developers build Web apps that will run on any web based browser.
  • Release Dates: Google will release the software to the open source community near the end of 2009
  • Partners & OEM : Google’s announced Chrome OS hardware partners: Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba and Platform partners like Intel.

Google explains Why we need to switch the context of current OS to a world where we leverage the Cloud computing. Official explanation of the problems that Google is trying to solve with Chrome OS are:

People want to get to their things on web instantly. Things like quick applications, email, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

Why it Matters

1. It’s from God of Web (Google)
Google is god of the Internet. Because of its brand strength and star power, it’s always a big deal when Google enters new markets. Nothing that Google does will go unnoticed or fail simply because it didn’t get enough exposure.

2. Chrome OS will be Free
Google has confirmed that the Chrome OS will be open source and will not have any licensing fees. That will enable Chrome OS-based netbooks to be cheaper than both Windows-based netbooks and ARM-based smartbooks. Plus, once we start talking about nettops, it’s entirely possible that we could see a $100 PC (without monitor) running the Chrome OS. Also, they have partnered with Intel for Atom based netbooks.

3. Because Windows deserves Better Alternatives
Nearly two decades after Microsoft Windows conquered the PC, very few real challenges have been mounted against its dominance. Long-time rival Apple Macintosh has recently had a resurgence, but it’s still hovering at less than 10% of the total market. This market is ripe for innovation and a new competitor. In many quarters, Windows fatigue has set in, especially in the notoriously price-conscious consumer market and in light of the Vista debacle. The virus, spyware, and security troubles of Windows are its biggest weaknesses and Google is wise to target those soft spots with Chrome OS.


Why it’s Irrelevant

1. Chrome OS runs on “another” Linux
Every year  is supposed to be an attempt claiming “The Year of Linux on the Desktop.” So is google trying this again for 2010?. It hasn’t happened and it’s not because it was an idea ahead of its time or it needed a stronger champion. The consumer mass market has rejected Linux on the desktop. Linux is easy, but it takes a genious to understand the simplicity. Today, Linux is nothing more than a niche OS loved by a group of highly technical users phrased as “Geeks”. the current Desktop trend, even Google can’t change, unless it’s prepared to write Linux device drivers for all of the world’s peripherals which would never happen.

2. It’s too late
By the time Chrome OS is released, Windows 7 will be everywhere (at least in the consumer market) and Mac OS X Snow leopard will be faster and simpler. If Google really wanted to make a powerful entrance into the OS market, the time to do it would have been mid-2007 when it was obvious that Windows Vista was a failure and it would take Microsoft a couple years to fix it. The opportunity for an OS to make a major impact on the PC market has passed. The OS just isn’t that important anymore. Windows and Mac both do a pretty good job of making the OS get out of the way as quickly and easily as possible. Chrome OS probably won’t be able to do that because it will start out with massive device driver incompatibilities with PC accessories and struggle with it for a year or so.

3. Google has no Experience on OS
Till Date, we haven’t seen a power packed OS from Google. Google hasn’t exactly knocked anyone’s imagination off with Android, its mobile OS. While Android has potential and still has time to develop, it feels like beta software in a market that demands greater “finish” and attention to detail when comapred to iPhone or Pre. Also, Android itself was originally interpreted to be a netbook OS. Therefore, the release of Chrome OS is a de facto conflict against Android, despite the fact that Google executives have tried to damp it. Maybe Google has realized that the Java software sitting on top of a Linux codebase in Android would have severe performance limitations on a PC. The fact that Google will have overlapping netbook operating systems does not inspire a lot of confidence that Google knows what it’s doing in the OS market or has a sound strategy, which I’m not sure if they have at this point of time.

4. It’s Targetting Netbooks
Netbooks have two simple and good features: They are more portable and cheap. Don’t be dragged away by two advantages. They also have two big drawbacks: They are terrible and a lot of consumers regret buying them because of the small screen and the smaller hardware which has no juice.

Certain consumers have already given up Netbooks.

Verdict:

Netbooks is a niche segment for the type of users who prioritize portability over all that is offered by technology. However, powerful Netbooks have started to emerge, we could see a strong wave in rise of Netbooks popularity again in the coming year.

Chrome OS targetting to redefine the portability has a market it can dare to capture. It may not be on the desktop, I`ll never see an application which can replace my native IDE like eclipse, tools like Photoshop, video editing, and Games and graphics like NFS etc; but yes, it’s for MIDs the long hyped gadgets of the future.

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  • scotty

    > They also two big drawbacks: They are terrible and a lot of consumers regret buying them.

    Tried to find ‘netbooks terrible’ on google and haven’t found anything except Apple ranting about netbooks, which, as in seems, are their direct competition on the market of coolnes.

    I think netbook that you could carry in one hand anywhere around your house, that could boot up to browser in few seconds should be really nice thing to have. Especially if you could send the image to your 40+ inch lcd/plasma screen.

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  • Sadguy

    I agree with you for the future of MID, but Intel had independent plans for it, why would they be keen in chrome OS?
    One of the reasons could be that both immature (google, Intel) Partnered for an OS.

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  • I must rebut some of your points on irrelevance.

    2. It’s not too late for Google to enter the OS market. Google is a lot like Apple, they don’t invent things, they “perfect” things. Google did not invent search or email, but they took those to the next level after the markets were quite mature.

    3. Google has amazing experience making OS. They’ve built very complex data storage systems to be infinitely scalable and triple redundant. Here is a white paper on the file system component of their storage systems: http://labs.google.com/papers/gfs.html . They must have done some Linux development to get the storage systems so mature. And don’t forget about Android.

    4. Google may be targeting netbooks, but look at the larger picture. It seems their long-term goal is really cloud computing. As you mention, Google will encourage and develop the cloud concept, but I think they have much bigger plans for cloud computing. And Netbooks are just a foot in the door–what better way to sell storing data off the computer than on a cheap and puny computer that holds non-professional data and is not designed to be a long-term computer.

    Google has an amazing long-term vision and I have a feeling that Chrome OS is not an end in itself, but a vehicle to take their business models to the next level. Google holds a lot of cards it hasn’t revealed.

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