Okay, so the cat is out of the bag, Google has thrown the source code of it’s Chromium ‘OS’ project open to community.
While fanboys are busy tearing each other apart on how it will or will not change OSes forever, I am still to see a balanced review or someone actually getting to the gist of why google needs another variant of linux. Here is my attempt to look at the “Why Chrome OS?”
Disclaimer: I am still downloading the source code (on an Windows XP machine) so I am yet to ‘try it out’.
What is Google’s niche?
Let’s ask ourselves, what is google’s core or niche? Answer comes in a flash – “Search”. They rule the search engine market, period.
What is Google’s source of revenue?
Ad revenue thanks to the phenomenal search engine.
How often do you click on Google’s ads?
Umm… well not all that often…
They are either a little off the mark sometimes, but most of the time they are way off!
However, I do love how they bring up UPS (FedEx/USPS) search link whenever Amazon sends me a Package Shipment confirmation. Why is that? Because it is bang on the buck when it comes to ‘context’. When I read a shipment mail I want to know where the shipment is. That little link they give next to the mail just does it for me.
Google’s ad algorithms need context to bring up relevant search results!
Owning the window to the internet (aka OS) gives it access ‘you’, the user directly. No need to worry about security violations, no running the hoops on browser security (or lack of them), they have you going through what you want. Bingo! All the context they need to pin point ad delivery!
As I see it’s the Chrome OS is nothing more a vehicle for Google to sharpen it’s Ad delivery. It’s a good idea, it might just work. When I first heard of Chrome OS my first feeling was ‘too many talented people in google have too much free time!’ But I will correct myself, Google is trying to spread out as far as it takes to get the context it needs to perfect it’s ad delivery. Everything else is irrelevant. They are not interested in OS wars or Browser wars, they are simply focused on their core, which sounds good from the shareholder perspective, but is it anything groundbreaking like the search itself? Naaahhhh!!!
Cloud computing is all great when you have internet flowing like water, but you have to realize greater part of this world doesn’t have flowing water, leave alone internet. Stating cloud computing will give desktop computing a run for it’s money is like the the original dot com boom predictions where everything would be done online. We know what happened to that one. We all remember Sun and Oracle’s attempt at the Network PC or whatever it was called. It came and went, the the desktop survived.
This time around cloud computing has a snazzy veneer to it. It works better than before, desktop market is riddled with what I feel is an inertia in innovation. Microsoft is resting on it’s laurels, Apple it too busy trying to make people stop using Microsoft products… Google might sneak in and steal both their thunder. Might!!!
For me, I am too old fashioned to give up my desktop/laptop. I liked the Chrome browser. Had Google spent more efforts on making it the perfect window to access internet it might have had success faster, getting people to use a new browser might be easier to actually get them to use a new OS. I used Chrome for almost a year (didn’t have firefox and IE 6 was there just because I am running XP), but now I’ve given up on it, it’s buggy with it’s own apps like Orkut/Gmail etc. Back to Firefox.
Will sign off for now, let’s see how the new flavor of Linux aka Chrome OS or Project Chromium goes…
P.S. Just for records, I earn my living on Microsoft technologies (they make some of the best development tools around, too bad Borland went out of business); I hate IE browsers; Use Firefox and have an Apple iPhone, in short I don’t fall in the ‘fanboy’ category.
UPDATE: Two years down the road, I must correct my hatred for IE. Thanks to IE9 it’s usable again. But Firefox still gets the most love from me as a browser 🙂 (and I’ve not gone back to Chrome).