Thursday, July 9, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #56: Speculating Google Chrome OS

About a couple of days ago Google (which hosts this blog via its Blogger subsidiary and of which I am a mostly happy shareholder) announced that it would develop a fully-fledged, next-generation operating system called Chrome OS. It is meant to be a web-connected OS, with web-based apps. Chrome OS will begin shipping in netbooks, and will presumably expand its reach to larger, stronger computers soon after.

The obvious ramification is the direct assault on Microsoft Windows (of which I am partially happy as a shareholder). Good money says that Google has the pull to smash the Microsoft windowpane (obvious pun and further play on words). Where Ubuntu/other Linux perpetually cannot and where Apple (of which I am currently a happy shareholder) is continuing its gradual ascent, Google can potentially do this exponentially fast. To win entry-level and casual computer users from Windows, Chrome OS must be faster, more stable, and its productivity software must replace all of Microsoft's equivalents.

The reports of Chrome's relative lightweightedness indicates relative speed over the modern Windows version (Vista and possibly 7). Add the entire line of Google Apps, and Chrome OS can defeat Windows. If that is the case, the only thing going for Windows is game compatibility, which would merely relegate Windows PCs to be as niche as Microsoft's other child the Xbox, Sony's PlayStation line, and Nintendo's family of consoles (i.e., the Wii).

Once Microsoft has to - at the very least - split its platform marketshare with Chrome OS, or lose its dominance altogether, Google's Web-dependent OS might be able to further its potential destruction of offline OSes. If industry-standard 3rd party developers jump on board the Chrome-train, then Apple OS X's (and the Mac's) rising popularity may revert to OS Classic levels. Adobe would have to port its entire Creative Suite - as fully featured as possible - as Web apps compatible with Chrome OS. Similarly, Avid's video editing platform and Avid/Digidesign's Pro Tools digital audio workstation would also need to be compatible. If these industry titans (of their respective industries) can find a way to make money as Chrome Web apps (subscription-based, perhaps), then Chrome OS has a definite shot at taking down both Windows and OS X. Alternatively, as a longshot, various open-source equivalents (Gimp for Photoshop, Audacity for Pro Tools, etc.) would have to beef up their specs and become new industry standards (small chance, though).

It's no wonder Fake Steve Jobs recently wrote a satirical blog rant that quasi-revealed some pseudo-concern over the potential rise of Google Chrome OS. Time will tell what both Redmond (MSFT) and Cupertino (AAPL) really think about Mountain View's (GOOG) potential PC platform conquest.

Complete and utter Googopoly, anyone? (Hopefully they continue to try to not be evil, or - at the very least - not overtly evil.)

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