5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

Summary: Google's Chromebooks may present the greatest challenge to Windows laptops to date, but timing, marketing, fragmentation and quality issues may hamper its progress in both the consumer and business worlds



As a longtime observer of Linux, I, too, am excited about Chromebooks' prospects on the business desktop.

I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague's positive assessment of its chances -- Google's attractive pricing and packaging, security measures and brand name will no doubt boost Linux's stature in the desktop/laptop world, finally.  Another core value -- the Chromebook's ability to serve as a hub and on ramp to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications -- makes the Linux PC a far more compelling alternative to Windows than past Linux desktop operating systems.  

But I'll toss in five issues that will also no doubt present challenges for Google's latest open source operating system (and Android as well):

1. Timing

If it is as successful as the Chrome browser, the ChromeOS will enjoy a nice pickup in market share in no time. But its debut comes at an awkward moment,  when business users are beginning to make the leap from the netbook to the iPad or tablet. In the last month or so, I've heard numerous reports that corporate purchasing agents are putting in orders for Apple iPad 2s.  Even the Motorola Xoom -- which runs Google's other other open source Linux OS, Android 3.0 -- is getting a lot of attention because of its ultra portable form factor. Is the Chromebook a little late?

2. Mac Attack

It is breaking news that a Mac is no longer anathema in the corporate world. My brother is an IT guy and is taking iPad configuration orders for his business users on a daily basis now.  It's the first time in his career that POs are getting okayed for anything other than a Windows desktop or laptop. My SO -- who has a mega collection of new and older Windows PCs and laptops in office-- was also told by the brass at that billion-dollar company to get an iPad 2 immediately. These are the kind of real world indicators that matter.  Can the Chromebook or Android tablet, for that matter, curtail Apple's rise in the business computing world?

3. Marketing Issues

 The beauty of open source is freedom and choice. Even Google is giving its audience of users a choice between two open source operating systems -- Android and ChromeOS.  But will this present a conflict for users -- a fear of betting on the wrong horse? It's hard to say at this point. I, for one, have a DroidX and am looking at the tablet as my next choice. Should I go with a Motorola Xoom or an Acer ChromeOS? This will be tricky for Google's marketing arm.  Another point: If Google aims to go after the business market, it must sign up a Dell or IBM to launch Chromebooks.

4. Fragmentation Issues

I guess i can accept the fact that Google will open source Android 3.0 when it is ready.  But I wonder how Google intends to run that open source project -- and this ChromeOS open source project -- going forward. There are practical considerations that must be taken into account, especially the needs of device manufacturers. But Linux is Linux, and the rules of the GPL must be respected in order to maintain continued innovation and growth. Keeping developers happy is essential for the growth of Google-targeted applications and innovation on the OS front itself.  Linux backers applaud Google's success, but their patience won't last forever.

5. Quality issues

I love using my Droid and DroidX, particularly since both devices run the Android open source operating system. But I do run into quality snags here and there that my fellow iPhone users do not seem to experience. Sometimes the touch pad does not work properly. Sometimes the device starts dialing numbers wildly. Sometimes it takes a long time for the OS to load up. I have talked to analysts to determine whether these are my bads, but am told that these issues are well known to Google. These are major headaches and ones that Google must resolve quickly. Will these quality issues take a back seat as Google tries to build a ChromeOS following? Google's focus on quality-- for both Android and the ChromeOS --  will be paramount here, especially as Apple makes headway in the business market. Both operating systems must run spectacularly, and bugs and security holes must be fixed quickly. Google already has problems with one of those operating systems. Why should I expect  these quality issues to disappear with two to support in house?

Topics: Google, Linux, Mobility, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Great analysis. There are a number of issues that will keep ChromeOS from

    being as successful as iPad for instance. But, like the slow success of Android, we could eventually see a lot of success for ChromeOS. Google needs to invest heavily in porting key applications to Native Client, for instance, GIMP.
    • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook


      Yep SJVN does great research. His brother and long suffering partner must get one, so obviously the iPad is taking over.

      Funny I don''t know anyone with an iPad, let alone anyone seriously contemplating it for enterprise.

      Oh and I have an ACER convertible tablet which runs 64 bit Win 7 Donnie, it's amazing what you can do with a real computer ;-) It even runs 32 bit apps - amazing!
      • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

        Nothing I can say about your experiences (really? you don't know anyone with an ipad? do you live in a cave?), but apparently it sold more than windows tablets over the last decade. Also trying to do real work on a tablet is pretty idiotic for the average person. There may be some industry specific exceptions, but for the most part you'd be much better off with a laptop. Tablets are better content consumption devices because they are more convenient to hold/carry.
      • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

        @tonymcs@... You must be living under a rock then.
      • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

        @tonymcs@... You mean it doesn't run 64-bit IE-9?
      • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

        @tonymcs@... " It even runs 32 bit apps - amazing! " LOL Ouch nice touch.
      • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

        @johnsuarez10@... It's the Apple fans that live under rocks. Windows still has ~90% market share, yet almost every media web page advertises an "app" to read their site, only for an Ipad. Nokia are the number one mobile company; the number one smartphone platform was Symbian until early 2011, when it was overtaken by Android. Yet Apple fans insist Apple is number one, because they and their friends have Iphones.

        Yeah, I've seen a few Ipads around. After the media were hyping and astroturfing it even before its release (remember "Islate"?) like it was the second coming, it's turned out to be quite a wet blanket - hasn't changed everything at all. I still see most people using phones, media players, netbooks and laptops as before. Apple are like the 9 year old kid in your family who comes 3rd place in the egg and spoon race, and everyone hypes how amazing that is. However much of an achievement that might be, in reality, there are still plenty of companies deserving of praise and media coverage at least as much.
    • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook


      HP is pushing WebOS for their devices PDA to desktop so I have a feeling they may get a bit of competition from that side as well.
  • OK, now you have me confused

    @DonnieBoy, you are constantly saying that "Win32 is dead". Now you are saying that they must create porting tools for Win32 apps. You can't have it both ways.
    • Just for the transition, as there is quite a catalog or old Win32 programs

      that for some are still important. In any case, there is little new development these days on the Win32 front.
    • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook


      "In any case, there is little new development these days on the Win32 front."

      Because Win64 and .NET are taking over what used to be Win32.
    • CobraA1: Win64 is just Win32 re-compiled for 64 bits. It is still the same

      basic API released with Windows 3.1. Also, almost nobody is using .NET for anything client side. They either stick with Win32, or do a web based interface.
    • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

      "It is still the same basic API released with Windows 3.1."

      No, actually, it isn't. DWM is replacing GDI. The Registry replaced INI files. FAT gave way to NTFS. I'd say every part of Windows has seen changes since 3.1.

      "Also, almost nobody is using .NET for anything client side."

      You'd be surprised, actually. Just because an app isn't waving a flag saying "developed in .NET" doesn't mean it's not using it.
  • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook

    @DonnieBoy <br>call double twist. You said whoever uses Win32 apps are Propellerheads and also pronounced Win32 as dead, but why are you asking for Win32 support in Chromebook praise Google, but at the same time you constantly bash Microsoft because it still supports "dead" Win32 Apps? Why a sudden change in opinion? <br>OK, BTW, I am back to my 8" formatting and printing. <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
    Ram U
    • Just for the transition, there is very little new development in Win32.

    • &quot;Very little Win32 Development&quot;

      aside from almost the entire gaming industry.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • goff256: I do not know even one person that plays Windows games, they have

      for the most part moved over to game consoles, includeing XBox because the hardware is so much cheaper and better for games, and the new high definition TV screens.

      In any case, Google is going after the mass market, not air head gamers.
    • Ah, the &quot;I don't know many people, so they don't exist&quot; mentality

      Over 12 MILLION people use WoW alone.

      And why do you insist on insulting anyone who plays PC games? Why do you insult anyone who Chrome OS won't work for?
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: 5 issues that could derail Google's Chromebook


      Not really a gamer are you Donnie?
    • Message has been deleted.