I was inspired to write this after hearing the good people at Buzz Out Loud as well as others talk about Chrome OS (supposedly coming in a year or two) and the Android Mobile OS somehow being evidence of some sort of disorganization of Google’s intentions Etc.
Google has these two initiatives that keep getting mentioned: Android, a “mobile OS,” and “Chrome (an OS allegedly coming out in a year or two),” which has been announced after all of us are already aware of the Chrome browser, which is pretty awesome in my opinion.
Here’s what I think practically everyone is missing about this.
Linux Distros are all frankensteins. I’m most familiar with Ubuntu, but I think anyone that knows about Linux would back me up in saying that Linux is an open-ended compilation of source-code. And if you have a given distro and need some additional software, you very likely are going to be using add-on code that users of other distros are also using.
For this reason, Android and Chrome OS are not necessarily different initiatives on Google’s part.
And to go even further, I don’t believe that Android and Web OS from Palm are competitors. I think it’s completely reasonable to assume that a Web OS front-end for Android is likely (as long as Android and WebOS continue to be released to consumers). They’re both just Linux with different front-ends. And with Linux Boxes, as they used to be called, the GUI is itself just an add-on.
Back to Google Chrome and Android.
I suspect that as an afterthought, Google realized that it should choose “Chrome”as it’s brand for NetBook sales because “Android” is not as friendly a name to the average buyer of a low-end laptop.
Along with that, banking on the fact that Mobile Data Connections are only going to get better, while WiFi only becomes more ubiquitous over the next two years, the idea of a machine that, for instance, has a music player that’s basically Pandora or Last.FM starts to make a lot of sense. (remember the FT article where the teenager says streaming music preferable owning it? I don’t know that we’ll even need to download mp3’s in 2 years, just stream!)
In order to make as many apps cloud-based as possible, Google Chrome could come to us with small API-based developments that take advantage of services like Yahoo!’s Flickr or Delicious or even news and entertainment services that plug right into the struggling corporate content businesses we keep hearing about in the tech news.
Perhaps the Chrome-loaded Asus laptop will be a direct Kindle competitor (or even an additional revenue model for amazon).
Meanwhile, mobile (pocket sized) devices aren’t going to stop getting smarter. Android is just a catchy ‘band name’ for what’s ultimately the result of Google seeing that it’s in their best interest to get the OS market out of the hands of Microsoft and Apple.
Chrome is the same thing, but with a better name, and a wider appeal as long as the NetBook trend keeps up.
And at this point, I don’t think Google is risking much on its campaign to popularize Linux. I personally believe that Linux is finally mature enough to begin competing with Mac OS and Windows so Google is just helping it along. They’re jumping on the bandwagon because it serves them to do so.
In case I didn’t make it clear enough, Chrome and Android are the same thing or at the very least they’re both just Linux with different default drivers and GUI coding.
You can run Linux on a toaster.