Handicapping the Chrome OS-Android “Rivalry”

Android is a monster success — much more successful than most would have predicted at the outset — while its sibling Chrome OS is just now getting its opportunity to prove itself. The use of Android as the OS for Google TV suggested to many that Chrome’s days were numbered. TechCrunch pointed out that GMail creator and former Facebook employee Paul Buchheit predicts the merger of the two operating systems or the outright demise of Chrome OS next year.

Because their dual existence is a bit confusing to the market, Google co-founder Sergey Brin previously said that Chrome and Android will likely merge or converge at some unspecified future point. So Buchheit’s prediction is less bold than it may initially appear. But it’s also premature to say that Chrome OS will go away.

Danny wrote an extensive review of the Cr-48 and I’ve been playing with one for several days. The machine has a number of weaknesses and takes some getting used to. But with the right expectations it actually offers a pretty good experience.

The hardware issues will likely be addressed when the first OEM (Samsung, Acer) devices come out. As with Android the hardware should get better over time. So too will the software.

I think Chrome notebooks do have a reasonable chance of success as enterprise machines and as a low-cost nearly disposable box for consumers. As I said on my blog my first take was that this was like the “ZipCar of PCs.” Forgot your laptop at home, why not rent one at the airport for your trip? I could also see colleges distributing these to students who might rent them for a semester, for example, or use them in class but not take them “home.”

All this discussion begs the question of price. They will have to be less than $500 (the original, target “network computer” price) but probably not be much more than $300 to succeed with consumers, given the competition.

Regardless it’s too soon to say Chrome OS is done. Based on my initial impressions I believe Chrome may have a brighter future than people suspect.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Chrome OS

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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