It was widely reported today that Google is working on "Chrome OS", a Linux based operating system targeted at netbooks.
The apparent purpose is to have an OS that boots very quickly on low-end hardware, and which mainly supports running Google's Chrome Web Browser.
To sum it up, instant-on access to Google and Google Applications like GMail, Google Docs, etc., which directly drives Google's ad revenue.
Many of the business and tech web pundits have been offering their opinions that this project is ill conceived and doomed to failure.
They complain that it won't allow users to run desktop programs like Photoshop, MS Office, or whatever.
Frankly, these pundits just don't get it.
This has the potential to be huge for Google and the general computing public.
One person who does "get it" is Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet.
Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
- Google will have a great jump on this, because they don't have to actually write an OS, they just need to customize an existing Linux distro. Or will they just use the Linux kernel, and build their own lightweight distro?
- Given how quickly the latest Ubuntu version (9.04) boots, it should be possible for Google to actually deliver on their promise of an OS that boots in just a few seconds
- The pundits that complain about not being able to run heavy desktop apps on the new OS miss the point of netbooks entirely. The point is to get connected to the internet, and use Software as a Service (SAAS) apps, not to lug around a heavy, slow-booting piece of hardware with proprietary software. They also miss the point that Google is not positioning Chrome OS to compete with desktops OSes - it's meant to capture the new netbook market.
- This is likely to be successful because it's aimed at the low end of the price scale. In these economic times, that just makes sense. Google doesn't need to make a profit directly from Chrome OS - it can probably give it away for free (and it is rumored that it will be open sourced). The whole point here is to drive more eyeballs to Google ads. Period. Microsoft does not know how to compete in this arena. It should be interesting to watch
- Those who complain that the Google applications will be useless when they're not connected to the web apparently missed the whole Gears thing