As businesses continue to thrive from the expansion in web services, it’s amazing how much of our desktop computing is executed in the cloud. With Google strongly positioned as the leader in pro-bono web based computing, I find myself using everything from Gmail for multiple email addresses to GCalendar to Google RSS to most recently tinkering with Wave. Some of the “office” features, such as Google Docs, have some maturing to do to be considered an enterprise level solution, however they’re serviceable for most novice users now.
Building on the thin client computing concept, Google released the Chrome browser in late 2008 (currently holds about 4% browser market share), and recently opened up the entire Chrome OS to developers a year before the OS is even set to go live. Google typically releases new products in Beta format (Gmail recently lost that status), continually soliciting user feedback on how to optimize the solution. This time around, Google released the Chrome OS code base, user interface experiments, and initial design projects to a thirsty Opensource community in search of the ultimate Linux based OS.
Does this mean Google is really going after the lucrative Microsoft Office space? Most likely no, at least not for a long time. Too many enterprise, small business and consumer products rely on MSFT OS platform, however the Netbook market is a ripe niche and logical fit for thin client computing. Over the past 12 months we have seen Google’s other OS, Android, take the Smartphone market by storm and I’m expecting the same marriage between Chrome OS and popular wireless ready Netbooks. Where does this leave Android? Most believe there is a strong potential for the Chrome OS and Android to converge at some point in the near future as they mature on a similar timeline as the devices they operate on.
Google took an interesting route creating two separate operating systems, however, by creating healthy internal competition; these two groups will push each other to create feature rich operating systems. The Chrome-Android symbiosis will further blur the lines between Smartphones and Netbooks over the next 18-24 months.