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Google’s Path to Success with Chrome OS

It didn’t take long for Google’s announcement of a new Chrome OS to cause a stir around the Internet.  Almost immediately news articles and blog posts came flying in from everywhere claiming to know exactly why the Chrome OS would either throw M$ Bill into bankruptcy or to the other extreme Five Reasons Google Chrome OS Will Fail or 10 Reasons Why Chrome OS is No Windows Killer.  And not surprisingly I have a totally unique opinion on this announcement and Chrome OS, just like everyone else.

Overall I think Chrome OS, based on Linux, can be a success.  I’ve never understood why Linux hasn’t had greater acceptance in the marketplace.  For the last several years, the Linux desktop (or laptop or netbook) experience has been overall very good.  Device support, including wireless, has made some amazing strides and it is seldom that I find a piece of hardware that has been on the market for several months that doesn’t work right away with most Linux distros I use.  The price is right (free), it looks good and it just works. Google’s choice of Linux as a starting point is an excellent one and I think most of the issues that people have about their data being stored on the “cloud” can be addressed.  There are just a few things that I think Google is going to have to do extra to make Chrome OS a success.

1 – Secure the Cloud, people want to know that their stored data is safe and it is essential to the success of the “cloud” idea that Google provide the proper safeguards for user data.  In addition, that data needs to be safe between the user’s machine and the cloud so Google will also need to adopt HTTPS for all data transfers for their applications.

2 – Secure Browsing Experience, in my mind this goes beyond just being able to HTTPS your Gmail and Google Docs.  If Google wants to capture the mobile market place with always connected to the internet applications then they are going to have to take steps to make the ENTIRE browsing experience secure.  To do that they should offer free VPN back to a secure Google server.  They already provide this out in Mountain View, California with their Google Wifi services through Google Secure Access; provide it to all users of Chrome OS.

If Google doesn’t mess up the current Linux experience and does just these two additional things then I think their new OS can rise to the top of the Linux distros and equal Apple’s OS X market share within 2 years of launch.  Brand name means a lot and Google has it.

But if they want more than that, if they really want to challenge the big boys in Redmond then they need to take one more big step…

3 – Partner with Adobe! People who use Adobe applications can not live without them.  Microsoft’s applications, they can take them or leave them.  Microsoft Office?  Google Docs or OpenOffice will do just as well for most people when they give them an honest shot.  Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Contribute, InDesign, ColdFusion; people don’t want an alternative, they want the real deal.  Honestly, Adobe could have made the same announcement Google made (an OS based on Linux), added that they were going to incorporate OpenOffice, guaranteed all their software would work in the new OS and I think it would have been over Game, Set, and Match to Adobe.  But they didn’t and the good news is there is still time for Google to partner with Adobe and bring all the Adobe applications to the new OS.

I’m excited about the new Chrome OS.  At a minimum I think it will do a great deal to introduce new users to all the current greatness of Linux so many of us already enjoy so from that perspective I think Chrome OS is already a win.  If Google plays their cards right though I can see Chrome OS growing to what most Linux users have been building toward, a serious contender to Microsoft for the OS marketplace.

Let me know what you think.

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2 comments to Google’s Path to Success with Chrome OS

  • given what google wants to do with chromeOS, i doubt it will be a serious contender except MAYBE on netbooks.

  • davi jordan

    W7 $200 Google chrome os free (sort of).

    Osx, Microsoft, and linux users are all too stubborn to change. It is what the undecided users will do that will make the difference. Maybe MS wants to eventually sell a web version that wants to run on a local web server. Traditional applications for local machines are on the way out. I know we use a web server for most of the programs we run. It enables us to re-purpose older machines and save money. If openoffice came out with a version for apache, I think things could get real interesting.

    Personally, I would not trust MS or Google with my data files. If either MS or Google drops the ball with users data, I will suspect the one who fails will be history. Knowing MS track record for security, I am more leery of using a web based application from them. Google is not known to honor privacy, especially after the stunt they pulled with the original license agreement for the chrome browser. Both companies have major drawbacks.

    There are already many excellent lightweight linux distributions. I do not think that chrome os will be a big deal except at first for people who have to have the latest new toy. I grew up professionally in a Microsoft world. I have since converted to linux business wise and personally. I would as soon use vim or zim than either msoffice or openoffice. There are a ton of workgroup apps that can be on a local server and save bandwidth costs. When companies and individuals see the bandwidth costs skyrocket, Online apps will suffer. I bet internet service providers can not wait to charge for the extra bandwidth. So online apps are not free!!

    Maybe all the freedom software might hurt the computing industry where development is done in the short run, but I would think it would open up making money doing training, support, and developing specialty macros for office or other custom software. The software might not cost anything, but I am not free is the way to look at it. The less expensive software might help small struggling companies to survive and become profitable sooner. It is a double edged sword. RedHat linux seems to be doing ok. That is more than I can say for MS.

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