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.