The Google Chrome OS

Carl Gallagher wrote:

As I predicted back in February Google has finally announced they will enter the operating system market with the launch of the Google Chrome OS. I have watched my colleagues, and the blog sphere debate the merits of this announcement. Some hypothosizing the ultimate downfall of Microsoft and a world where we are all logging into a Google Chrome PC (or would that be a GC?) each morning when we arrive at work. Others argue that Chrome could never replace “real” operating systems, after all, there are plenty of other applications they currently use such as photoshop, accounting systems, and games that don’t run in a browser.

Regardless of how the this announcement plays out and impacts Google’s competitors, it highlights that in the online world, times they are a changing, and changing in leaps and bounds.

Google is initially targeting the Chrome OS at net books rather than desktops. This seems like a strategic move on the part of Google, and one that firmly places a bet on the fact that computing as we know it is moving away from the ‘traditional’ desktop.  It is easy to see why this is a sure bet by them. More and more applications are becoming browser based, and hence are portable. Therefore they can be used anywhere though any device so long as it has a browser. Take Facebook for instance, more than 5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day.  That is a lot of time spent on a website in a browser. Google’s browser-based apps provide a browser-friendly way to do all the tasks that previously were only possible with MS Office. (more time spent in a web browser). Reading emails (again… in a browser), consuming news (in a browser). In fact, apart from iTunes, about 95% of my time I spend sitting in front of a computer is looking at a browser, or using an application within a browser. I am even updating this blog in a broswer.

Whether it be the iPhone OS, Android, or the Chrome OS, there is a shift to more streamlined, networked, and web-based computing. For many years we watched browsers getting more complex with more functionality as IE competed with Netscape, and later with Firefox. In the last year we have seen that trend reversed with the browser being simplified, a trend started by chrome and quickly followed by Safari, and Firefox, and to some degree IE. The simplification of the desktop is the obvious next frontier. Simplicity and function is the new “sexy”. Something that Google (and Apple) know a lot about.

There are two things that I am interested in watching now…

1) what will Apple do? For a long time they have been the challenger operating system that is focused on the user. A Chrome OS is probably closer aligned to Apple’s current position rather than Microsoft’s

2) how will the consumer perception of Google change as the become further entrenched in our lives?

So my new predictions (just for the record):

  • Google OS will become the dominant OS for new (non-apple) web-enabled devices such as net books, hand-helds, etc.
  • Apple will release new hardware devices in this category (some sort of iphone/macbook air hybrid perhaps? or maybe a new AppleTV device) that will run a streamlined Apple OS similar to the Iphone OS.
  • Open source and 3rd party apps and app stores will become the norm for getting new fucntionality for these devices.
  • Microsoft in its current form will survive in the short-medium term however will start to be eroded by Google’s increasing dominance in the corporate space with web-based applications and cloud computing providing a cheaper alternative for large organisations and government departments. It will never return to the position of power that it once had.

Now we just sit and wait to see what happens. Exciting times!

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