Google Chrome OS: Opening a vein in Redmond

I need to study it some more, but here's my first take on Google's Chrome OS announcement (link). I think what they’re really saying is:

"We want to bleed Microsoft to death, and we've decided that the best way to do that is give away equivalents to their products. By creating a free OS for netbooks (the only part of the PC market that's really growing) we hope to force Microsoft into a Clayton Christensen-style dilemma. It can either cut the price of Windows in order to compete with us, or it can gradually surrender OS share.

"By using Chrome to set a standard for web applications, we also help to make the Windows APIs less relevant. So even if Microsoft manages to hold share in PCs, its OS franchise becomes less and less meaningful over time."


That helps to explain why Google would be pushing both Chrome and Android at the same time. 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. The more free options, the more pain caused.

The next question we should all ask is whether Chrome-based netbooks will take off. I'm skeptical, especially in the near term. Most people buy netbooks to run PC applications. Linux already failed in the netbook market because it can't run PC apps, and Chrome OS won't run PC applications either.

But in the meantime, Google can put more price pressure on Microsoft, and maybe that's the real point.

11 comments:

jonathan said...

Don't forget that Google also own quite a few applications. They will put Picasa and Google Documents (driven by Gears) onto Chrome OS. For many people, photo viewing, word processing, an MP3 player and web access are sufficient.

Chrome OS is basically a Linux kernel with a new windowing system and APIs that Google is writing. So there will be applications, just that they won't be Windows applications.

As a Mac user, I can quite happily cope without Microsoft applications. Many people do.

Chan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chan said...

I suspected this was comming when they put off that Chrome Cartoon back in the days. They were aiming for the big guy.

But this wouldn't make any OS irrellavent by any time soon. Anyway I am glad it will put more pressure on specially on Redmond to make their stuff more competitive.

I love and live in the cloud lifestyle, but even if Google put their all efforts on this it would still be a tough sell to make me give up My Mac Apps anytime soon. So will be the Windows clan.

Let's wish for the tech industry to get their act together to make this place even better!

Frans Thamura said...

Here, in the country that internet infrastructure is still amazingly bad, and people still uneducated because of govermental corruption. I see that Windows still get the biggest marketshare. even, i am using linux to work and it makes money. google must have education division to help us do this penetration including Chrome OS. We believe our education program are smiliar with advanced country like US or Japan, but our ecosystem and infrastructure, and Microsoft marketing program with several global network, will make ChromeOS movement directly pended.

votetheday said...

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John said...

What do you mean people use Netbooks mainly for PC applications? I was under the impression that the main use for them was browsing and email.

carkitter said...

So let's see, we have:
Windows/Windows Mobile/IE8,
Mac OSX/iPhone OS/ Safari,
Chrome OS/Android/Chrome Browser,...

When is Palm releasing a browser and PC version of WebOS? Is this on the cards?

I have enjoyed the iPhone 3G I have but not the limits Apple have placed on it or the sync process with iTunes.

Previously I was a long time Sony Ericsson user and the positive attitude I have towards them has led me to buy Sony products such a a Vaio, a digital camera, video camera and accessories.

This has not happened with Apple since I bought the iPhone. I do not want to buy a Mac or use Safari.

I do use the Chrome browser however. I would definitely give a Chrome OS a try, and would love to intergrate both with a Sony Ericsson phone running Android.

While I agree with all the Google targeting Microsoft comments, I think Google are also targeting the level of integration Apple has brought to their devices. Without such integration, I have been unable to see any reason for me to purchase an Android device.

Palm should seriously consider creating a PC OS/Browser combination too, if the aren't already. They should also hurry up with the GSM version of the Pre! :-)

Michael Mace said...

jonathan wrote:

>>Don't forget that Google also own quite a few applications. They will put Picasa and Google Documents (driven by Gears) onto Chrome OS. For many people, photo viewing, word processing, an MP3 player and web access are sufficient.

And there's no question that those would be the target customers.

But to be comfortable with a Chrome PC, you'd have to be willing to give up any possibility of running a Windows app if you need to. In my experience, what usually stops people from switching is their fear of losing that option. It's the feeling of being trapped.

Don't underestimate the power of that fear.

Case in point...


Chan wrote:

>> I love and live in the cloud lifestyle, but even if Google put their all efforts on this it would still be a tough sell to make me give up My Mac Apps anytime soon. So will be the Windows clan.

Exactly.


>>Let's wish for the tech industry to get their act together to make this place even better!

Amen.



Frans wrote:

>> google must have education division to help us do this penetration including Chrome OS.

I think there are interesting prospects for Chrome in the developing world, where Google can tap into a lot of latent interest in open source software -- because it costs less and can be easier to translate into local languages.

But as you point out, Google will need to support it.

There's also the question of how a cloud-based OS will work in a country where broadband is scarce or very expensive. But that depends on how the OS is architected.



John wrote:

>>What do you mean people use Netbooks mainly for PC applications? I was under the impression that the main use for them was browsing and email.

Good point. I was writing fast and didn't explain well. Most people do use netbooks mostly for browsing and e-mail, but they are very reluctant to give up the option of running other Windows apps if they need to.

Here's an analogy: I bet 90% of your TV-watching is limited to three or four channels, but would you buy a television that could only tune in four channels?

That's why Linux-based netbooks are selling so poorly.


carkitter wrote:

>>When is Palm releasing a browser and PC version of WebOS? Is this on the cards?

I hope they wait until they are much richer before they do that. They can't afford to split their focus right now, in my opinion.


>> I think Google are also targeting the level of integration Apple has brought to their devices. Without such integration, I have been unable to see any reason for me to purchase an Android device.

Interesting. I agree with you completely about integration, but to make that happen Google would need to also make the hardware. They have shown no willingness to do that so far, and it would piss off their licensees.

On the other hand, if all they want to do is bleed Microsoft, giving away a bunch of software is a great way to do it.

MikeTeeVee said...

I don't think Google is going after Windows per se. They don't really need much OS market share. Instead, I think they're trying to advance (and protect) the state of the art in open web app standards.

As long as IE and Firefox and Safari keep up with Chrome, and continue to support Google's latest web-based apps, then Google has achieved their goal. Ironically, it's sort of like the browser wars of the 90's, but it's about functionality rather than market share.

Of course, that's not good news for big MS apps like Office and Exchange.

By the second half of 2010, the sort of hardware that can run Chrome will be dirt cheap. They'll be marketed as web application appliances, not computers.

But unlike connected gadgets like today's iPod Touch, they'll have a full-featured web browser.

With HTML5 or Gears, you won't need a constant connection. Google's web apps will automatically sync.

Nadav Gur said...

In my mind, the key question is - "what is the desired end-game from Google's perspective?" what are they trying to do? take market share away from Microsoft and replace them - with the same business model in place? i.e. is Google trying to out-Microsoft Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

Have had Mac’s all my life. Chrome OS? Give me a fracking break. They don’t have a clue as to what they are getting into. Give it away free to a product line that is a dead end? Smart, real smart. Bleed Redmond dry. Don’t think so boys and girls. How many revenue streams do they have and how many do you have Google? Oh Yeah you have ONE. You also just told them you are going after a small market and will not have your product ready for 12 months!!!! Sheer Marketing Genius. Since they already have a SKU for their Win 7 Browser based OS for netbooks and will have it out to manufactures months before yours, guess version 1 of Chrome will just waltz right in and take over the 90% market share-NOT!
As a Google stockholder let me clue you in: Free is not a good business model pinheads. You get your revenue from Ad’s. You better figure out other revenue streams that have a price tag higher than ZERO. And don’t bet the farm on Cloud Computing. The big guys (and me, the little guy) will never trust Google or Microsoft or Amazon with their critical apps and data.
BTW, I use BING now. Nicer home page, better results. If anyone should be worried about market share it should be Google Search.