Randall Kennedy released an excellent analysis of the Chrome OS that I invite you to read. In that analysis, Mr. Kennedy outlines why he believes that the Chome OS is doomed to fail miserably. Though I haven’t seen Chrome OS myself, I believe his read on the operating system is solid. This is a stripped down operating system that basically locks the user into web applications with the Chrome browser as the interface. The operating system is at its core a paired down version of linux and does not seem to support running desktop applications. Because this is a this OS that only supports the web browser, Mr. Kennedy’s analysis is that no user will want this running on their computer. This is where Kennedy misses the point.
From reports including Mr. Kennedy’s article, Google will be releasing Chrome OS on a limited set of hardware. Instead of having to deal with device drivers for a wide array of display adapters and whatnot, it appears that Google will be shipping Chrome OS on a constrained set of netbooks. Kennedy looks at this limited set of hardware combined with the limited features of Chrome OS and determines that with all these restrictions, nobody will use the operating system. This is where Kennedy has missed the point.
Personally, I would be happy to have a netbook running Chrome OS on it. With access to Google apps, I will still have simple spreadsheets and word processing inside of the full functional web browser. I would use a Chrome OS netbook like, well, a netbook. I would surf the web and check email. My wife and I would keep it in the kitchen for looking up recipes on our favorite recipe sites. My wife would use it to waste time on Facebook, er… “see what her friends are up to.” I would have to find a web Twitter client that I like since I’m guessing I wouldn’t be able to run TweetDeck. But, that’s not a major loss.
I don’t want to run VisualStudio on my netbook. I probably wouldn’t care if I couldn’t run Word. As long as the user is looking for a simple web appliance that is better than a mobile phone while being lighter and less expensive than an entry laptop, then I think a Chrome OS netbook could be a suitable device. Yes, this is a narrow market. No, Google won’t be making a big dent in Windows (or Mac for that matter) with this device. However, this could get them a decent footing in a tough market to make headway into.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords