Chrome OS: Not Just For Netbooks

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It has already been made perfectly clear that Google’s upcoming Chrome operating system is going to be a miserable failure if it is used exclusively for netbook computers.  With the market for tablet computers expanding at a rapid rate, competition in the mobile computing field is undoubtedly going to become a big thing.  So it should come as no surprise that Linus Upson – the vice president of engineering for Chrome – has recently announced that Google’s web-intensive operating system is going to expand past the netbook market and onto handheld computers, tablet computers, and television systems.  But when looking at the big picture, Chrome OS still looks a bit repetitive.

First off, let’s look at the first type of device that the Chrome OS would be a candidate for installation on.  In short, a handheld computer is simply a mobile computer that has a relatively light-weight OS.  Way back when, a “handheld computer” was simply a fancy name for PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), most notably the Palm.  However, as times have progressed and communications have become a must-have with mobile computers, the market for smartphones such as the has far surpassed that of the PDA market, simply because a smartphone is simply a beefed-up PDA with the ability to make calls.  One of the biggest contenders in the smartphone OS market is Google’s Android OS; the same universal operating system that powers both low-end smartphones, as well as powerhouses such as the Droid 2.

The Android OS is so versitile that we’ve even begun to see it emerge in the tablet market as well after the success of the iPad.  So what good would Chrome OS do if the Android OS is already as popular and readily available as it is?  In my opinion, the Chrome OS just makes it seem like Google is competing within their own company.  Moreover, the Chrome OS would be far from an ideal choice for a handheld computer unless it were going to have a constant Internet connection.  After all, what good would a web-centered operating system be if it didn’t have access to the web?

This is more or less, the same concept applies in the tablet market.  Many of the most appealing features of the iPad – watching movies on the go, using the device as a calendar, etc – just would not be as doable if the device did not focus more on offline usability; something that Chrome OS doesn’t appear to have a strong-point in.  While I can respect cloud computing as a useful concept, I for one am not ready to rely on it entirely – especially on a mobile device.

The one area that I do feel that Chrome OS would do very well in is the television market.  For the most part, web-based television systems such as the Apple TV are always plugged into the Internet.  In fact, examples such as Netflix’s new emphasis on streaming services have only gone to prove that web-based television is the future.  In my opinion, Chrome OS would be perfect for television streaming boxes.  It’s light weight, there’s very little involvement in terms of an offline configuration, and the OS seems flexible enough to be a long-term solution.

While I still think that Chrome OS is going to be a failure, I still have a sliver of faith that it will ultimately come out to be something that can be indeed be used.  While I’m sure it’s not going to revolutionize the mobile communications market, I’m positive that if Google plays their cards right, Chrome OS will be the perfect solution for a modern-aged television experience.





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