Why Chrome OS Will Succeed (in a limited market)

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

About Eric Anderson

Eric has 6 years experience in software development with the last 3 being in Agile shops. He is now spreading the Agile love as a Senior Consultant with Headspring Systems in Austin, TX. Eric loves to share his passion for software development, especially Test-Driven Design, with anyone that will listen. Eric is also a Hudson Continuous Integration fanboy. He recently published “Hudson Continuous Integration Server” in the May/Jun ‘09 issue of C.O.D.E. magazine to help .Net’ers get started with Hudson. Outside of software, Eric’s passions include his family (wife, son, 2 daughters), fixing things around the house, and volunteering with various local churches and organizations.
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7 Responses to Why Chrome OS Will Succeed (in a limited market)

  1. I think you’ve hit the point right on the head. Like you, if I were to invest in a netbook, this would be exactly the reason for it. I would rather use a Chrome OS which works and lets me into my functions than to worry about all the other extraneous.

    If you are like me, you already have many attachments to Google services and a one touch stop to reach it is rather nice.

  2. Steve says:

    Definitely agree, a $200 browsing laptop that let me do everything web related is a no brainer. It’d be lightning fast, as long as a virus checker worked on, it’d be a no brainer for my kitchen.

  3. Steve says:

    Ouch, and it even made me use the term “no brainer” twice!

  4. Darage says:

    @Steve .. they should call you Steve no brainer.. no brainer eh:)

  5. Paco says:

    I browsed to the source code and I was a disappointed.
    1. It’s not an OS, not even a “paired down version of linux” just some UI gadgets build on top of GTK.
    2. No Go programming language, most of the things are written in C++ (not just the low-level stuff).

    For most netbook users, I don’t think this “OS” adds a lot above most default linux distributions, they will use the browser 99% of the time anyway.

  6. Ryan Svihla says:

    @Paco except it’ll probably be really good at browsing (chrome on linux a lone gets me happy). Netbook as a secure web appliance has the potential for fulfilling a nitch otherwise unfilled..

  7. Steve says:

    I think they need to merge Android with Chrome for their new OS.

    My question is: would an ‘out of browser’ Silverlight app work? I saw the demo of playing a Flash chess game.

    Just Chrome… dunno, sorta not enough… Android + Chrome == interesting!

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