Open Source and Hardware Have Transformed Google
A year ago, BusinessWeek published a story called "It's Official: Google Is Now a Hardware Company." And since then, Google's involvement with hardware has been transformative. Chromebooks (portable computers running Chrome OS) are one of the few bright spots in the portable computing market, Google is spreading out with its Motorola Mobility phone strategy, and the company is getting buzz around its new Chromecast dongle for streaming video content to TVs.
Hardware manufacturers are picking up on the trend. Adding fuel to the fire, reports are emerging that Acer will pull back from its Microsoft Windows strategy and increase its focus on Android and Chromebooks. Google's focus on open source operating systems appropriate for leading hardware devices is paying off.
The Wall Street Journal's report on Acer choosing to increase its focus on Android and Chromebooks comes on the heels of comments from Asus' CEO about choosing not to focus on Windows RT until Microsoft proves there is demand for devices running it. As Microsoft loses traction with these hardware makers, Google benefits.
So far this year, market research news has been beyond dreary for PCs and PC equipment makers. But, as sales of PCs slip, sales of new-generation devices, including tablets, are on the rise. And, among PC alternatives, it turns out that Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS platform, are bucking the downward trend.
As reported by Bloomberg, based on market research from NPD, Chromebooks have grabbed 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300 in recent months, making them the fastest growing subset of the PC industry.
And, Android continues to dominate in the mobile phone market. That means that Google's big bets on open source mobile operating systems are working. It's worth remembering that Android and Chrome OS aren't even seven and five years old, respectively.
And BusinessWeek was right a year ago. Google has ramped up big time with its own hardware efforts delivering in-demand products like the touchscreen Pixel Chromebook and the Chromecast dongle. The company has even proved that it can support hardware offerings.
In the coming year, as Microsoft struggles with its mobile strategy, Windows RT and its tablet business, look for Google to make more inroads with its focus on open source and new breed hardware devices.