The biggest topic among Mac pundits this week was Google’s Chome Operating System, due sometime in 2010. Despite the noise and prognostications that Chrome OS will harm Windows and Mac OS X, the reality will prove to be quite different. Chrome OS is much ado about not much.
That’s a good question. Why does Google want to compete with Microsoft or Apple or Linux with yet another version of the Linux OS? Because it can.
The nascent netbook market shows that there’s opportunity if all the pieces fit together well. Windows Vista doesn’t work well on low powered portable devices. Linux may work better but suffers from complexity and lack of mainstream applications.
Netbooks are low priced, low margin products, so don’t expect Apple to launch a $399 Mac version any time in your lifetime.
Why a Google OS? Control and power.
We talk about Apple creating an ecosystem of Mac, iPod, iPhone, App Store, iTunes Store, and accessory makers, but Google has a similar ecosystem.
There’s Google Mail, Google’s Chrome Browser, Google Desktop, Google Earth, Picasa, SketchUp, Talk, Gears, Documents, Calendar, News, Reader, and at least a dozen more I can’t remember off the top of my head.
Couple those with a small netbook PC, or, a so-called smartbook PC (cheap, light, fast, web-centric), and it’s easy to see why Google wants to control where it goes and what it does.
After Google’s Chrome browser was introduced, based on Web-Kit, the same browser engine in Safari, it was a natural conclusion for the company to move to their own long-rumored OS.
What About Apple & Microsoft
In terms of overall, long-term market share, Linux and Microsoft have the most to lose, especially Windows.
Linux has never made a foothold in the home, becoming relegated to mostly server use and geeks who are decidedly anit-Microsoft. Windows suffers from legacy weight and is bloated, slow, and troublesome.
Google could provide the perfect lightweight, inexpensive, cost effective solution for a floating, portable PC that is 100-percent wired to the internet cloud; documents, applications, utilities, files, everything.
A secure, fast, problem free OS on generic hardware with robust online applications might do serious damage to the Windows hegemony in a few years. Free, good, fast, secure, might be difficult for Microsoft to beat.
What about the Mac? At least for a few years, Chrome OS will not be a competitive problem for the Mac because it is positioned at the opposite end of the product scale. Cheap vs. premium.
Apple has successfully migrated OS X from the Mac to darling handheld products in the iPhone and iPod touch, and perhaps a pad-like device in the near future. Google is creating its own closed environment in an open source way. Apple has a closed environment using open source components.
Microsoft is in the middle and feeling the pain.