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Yesterday's announcement of that Google was getting into the OS game (sort of) was not surprisingly the meme du jour. This is a move that many had expected for some time and gave bloggers and techies plenty of conversation fodder.

The most interesting thing about the buzz: the polar extremes in opinion. Some people think that Google Chrome OS is a serious threat to Microsoft while others dismissed outright Google's announcement.

What made these extremes in opinion of interest was the fact that it seemed one's background made all the difference in how Google's announcement was received. Bloggers with limited technical backgrounds were by in large those heralding Google's announcement as a mega-event while those with more substantial technical backgrounds appeared to be far more skeptical.

I thought it'd be interesting to look at some of the quotes from both camps to demonstrate this.

The Bloggers

Don’t worry about those desktop apps you think you need. Office? Meh. You’ve got Zoho and Google Apps. You won’t miss office. Chrome plus Gears plus Google Wave plus HTML 5 and web platforms like Flash and Silverlight all combine into a single wonderful computing device. The Internet Is Everything. All the OS has to do is boot the damn computer, get me to a browser as fast as possible and then stay the hell out of the way.

Michael Arrington, TechCrunch

Clearly though, Google’s setting the stage for a major battle with Microsoft. Just as Microsoft is trying to break Google’s stranglehold on the search engine market, Google may be trying to do the same with the Windows-controlled market.

Ben Parr, Mashable

But let’s be clear on what this really is. This is Google dropping the mother of bombs on its chief rival, Microsoft.

MG Siegler, TechCrunch

Can Google’s boldest attack against Microsoft succeed? Absolutely. Even if it flops.

Peter Kafka, AllThingsDigital

The move by Google is sure to leave Apple and Microsoft shaking in their boots, and quite frankly, I’m certain this is the beginning of the end for Ubuntu & co.

Zee, TheNextWeb

The Techies

As smart and popular as Google may be, the success of Chrome OS is not a fait accompli. Sometimes the smartest and most popular kid at school simply falls on his face. Google Chrome OS could very well turn out to be that kid.

David Coursey, PC World

Will all of this work? Apple spent a couple of years trying to convince developers that they should be happy with Web apps, but it's clear that the arrival of native applications has been a significant driver of the iPhone's popularity. Palm appears to be trying something closer to Google's vision with the Pre, but Palm is also offering a native SDK, and it's too early to tell how well its reliance on online services will work out for users. At this stage, it's not even clear if the netbook market will have staying power once the economy picks back up.

John Timmer, Ars Technica

Google makes great products. But it's currently trying to tread a nice middle ground between completely embracing the open source community and keeping control over software it has developed. That's an impossible patch to walk and one that leaves it open to being criticised for the same sort of arrogance operating system vendors have been accused of for decades.

Renai LeMay, ZDNet.com.au

Linux has not fared so well in the Netbooks market and I don’t see anything here that makes me think Google ChromeOS will do any better. Where’s the secret sauce here other than the Google halo effect painted over with the browser and duly hyped by the SV Google lovers? Sure, I can see why Google might make subtle statements that people wish to interpret but the reality is no-one outside the Silicon Valley tech bubble gives a damn what operating system and browser they use. Many are still mandated to use IE6 as a colleague reminded me the other day. Simply having Google wave its hand is not going to sway hard nosed enterprise buyers - even if it is free.

Dennis Howlett, ZDNet.com

I worked in IT long enough to know that nothing “automatically works.” Many web-based applications will fail on Chrome, even though they shouldn’t.

Paul Boutin, VentureBeat

Who Wins?

As a recovering techie myself, I fall into the techie camp but I'll leave the betting to the professional punters.

Photo credit: claudiogennari via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 July, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2429 more posts from this author

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KS

I thought that Asus was just playing the netbook game with Microsoft and just investing in upcoming technology as LXDE and Linux to annoy Microsoft and lower insane OS procurement prices. Now the Taiwanese team up with Google. Good bye, Win7 for eeePC? What technologies will Google put in the box? Chrome OS is to Android what Chrome was to Firefox. Google competes with itself, and hunts down the cash cows: android is the anti-iphone solution, Chrome the anti-Firefox/IE monopoly solution, Chrome OS the anti-Win7 solution for netbooks. Would not surprise me if the Asus technology wizards would write the Google OS, and Google just make the public buzz. That would explain their "Express Gate" secret program.

over 7 years ago

Jamie Riddell

Jamie Riddell, CEO at Digital Tomorrow Today Ltd. /BirdSong

I think everyone is missing an almighty point. Google has taken the last few years of developments and aquisitions, starting with Gmail, Calendar, Apps, Documents and then a browser and suddenly stuck them together in an operating system.

Regardless of whether it works out the box or not. Google has the toolset to satisfy your average computer user. Putting that into a grey box won't be such a problem in the long run. A partnership with a desktop manufacturer, based on a potential revenue share [of ads or subscription models] would seem attractive in this market. Or they could aquire one - they have the financial muscle to do so.

Stop looking at the smaller picture and witness the almighty shift that has just started.

over 7 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

Although Google is doing a great job (disclaimer: I am a Xoogler), it never ceases to amaze me that a large part of its success is due to the failure of others to come up with decent alternatives.

  • Gmail v Outlook - no content
  • Gcalendar v Oracle calendar - no contest
  • G search v MSN - no contest
  • G maps v Multimap - no contest
  • Adsense - no competition (since Yahoo pulled their plug)
  • Google Analytics v Omniture - no contest (OK I am bias on that one!)
  • Android v complicated, clunky, incompatible phone OS's whose sole purpose is to tie the user to the phone/network - Holding everyone back...

Of course, a number of those are acquisitions, but G develops these to another level. The only one that appears to have a similar ethos is Apple in my view, and it took them 30+ years to achieve this.

The volume of products and the power/influence this will bring G does scare me though - I want to see competition stimulate innovation. G does a great job at the moment, but no single entity can have all the intelectual property. Further thoughts from me: http://tinyurl.com/ljpr4y

BTW, I class myself as technical, though my LAMP skills are getting rusty (configuring apache at the moment!) as I move into marketing - or at least helping marketers analyse and improve their websites...

Best regards, Brian

over 7 years ago

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Jamie Riddell

Your comments and are indeed true. Google succeeds where others fail. All power to Google for out running the others which now gives it the clout to outgun the others. Competition is always welcome, and indeed is important - I am just struggling to see where it is going to come from. The Microsoft Cloud announcement today doesn't offer much hope as they are still a large lumbering beast that won't turn quick enough.

over 7 years ago

Ben LaMothe

Ben LaMothe, Web & Social Media Strategist at Renaissance Creative

I agree with Jamie's comment. Google has quietly assembled a considerable tool set of web applications that, when put together, are quite formidable. By actually annoncing their intentions I expect Google to devote more resources to it to ensure it doesn't flop. Because it this flops, it'd be a pretty big disaster for the company.

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Jamie,

I'm not so confident that "Google has the toolset to satisfy your average computer user". If that was the case, you'd see far more adoption of the entire Google Apps suite by average users. As it stands now, most of the adoption of Google Apps is amongst companies and even there, few have ditched Office; the primary use of Google Apps is for GMail.

This said, even if I'm wrong and Google does have a commercially viable toolset, I'm not sure simply satisfying the needs of the average computer user is enough. In this market, history has proven that you can't just build a suitable mouse trap and expect to succeed.

A few points:

  • Similar arguments have been made about Linux OSes in general (read: Ubuntu) but Windows still dominates netbooks. Why?
  • Spending $300+ on a netbook that can only run a web browser isn't exactly an appealing value proposition. Lots of people argue that netbooks aren't really suitable to do much else but the flaw in this argument is that like most computer technologies, netbooks are only going to get more powerful. So assuming that netbooks only need a browser because desktop applications are too intense for them is short-sighted.
  • There are a lot of things Google Apps can't do. Example: pivot tables in Google Docs. I think there's a very good reason that most of the use of Google Apps is for GMail.

It will be interesting to see what happens but I think lots of people are going to be disappointed. Google will sign on hardware manufacturers (it already has) but these same manufacturers aren't going to ditch Windows. So for Google to succeed, it's going to have to win the hearts and minds of consumers. When you look at the Chrome browser's market share and realize that Google has tried promoting it via television, links on the Google homepage, etc. I think it is biting off more here than it has the teeth to chew.

over 7 years ago

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Jamie Riddell

Patricio,

Your comments are valid, other OS'es have come and gone but in most cases they have been Linux variations. Ask the average person on the street if they would like a free Ubuntu operating system or a free Google operating system and they'd choose Google. They'd ask you what is an operating system first!

With the adoption, I agree most people haven't got their heads around it to use it. I don't use Google docs [yet] so the average consumer is still some time away from adoption. This might be because people don't know about it, don't understand about it and so haven't dipped their toe in it.

Finding things like Google Docs isn't easy either, which will hamper take up. I know it is there at the top of Gmail, but if we are talking mass market we are also talking about an audience that has to google www.yahoo.com to find it!

I agree the promotion of Chrome on TV ads and homepage links has not made a massive shift in browser consumption but you could also look at it as slow burning branding. Get the Chrome brand into people's brains before adding to what Chrome means or becomes.

These are indeed exciting times!

over 7 years ago

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craigm

I'm currently evaluating Windows 7 and I think it rocks.   That would make it the first Windows OS that I think rocks (although I eventually gave XP grudging respect and Windows 98 SE was all right in its day).

So its taken Microsoft 25 years to produce a stonking OS but for some reason Google is going to deliver a mature OS based on a still pretty bleeding edge concept straight off the bat? 

And don't forget that Apple have been producing amazing OSs for years and are pretty much nowhere in the mass market, ditto Linux (which let us not forget is over 18 years old now and still seen as something of a newcomer). Neither of them tried to incorporate a total shift in how we consume applications into their attempts either.

Google may eventually become a serious rival to Microsoft in the app/OS sphere but the timescale could well be measured in decades.

I get the feeling, meantime, that this particular attempt could well be Google's Bob, Lisa or OS/2...

over 7 years ago

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Steven Meyer Jr

Check out my Chrome OS blog post: http://yovia.com/blogs/stevenmeyerjr/

over 7 years ago

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