The First Chrome OS-based Netbook May Be Upon Us
According to a report from Engadget, which has a knack for getting these things right, Google will announce the first Google-branded netbook based on the long-awaited Chrome OS on Dec. 7. Engadget cites multiple sources who say that the company will hold an event of some type on Tuesday to herald the netbook. If true, the announcement would put to rest the many criticisms Google has faced regarding not delivering on its Chrome OS promises by the end of this year, but we still think Google is late to the game with Chrome OS, especially since the netbook market itself has cooled off.
There are some supporting developments surrounding the possibility of the first Chrome OS netbook this week. For one, Google has just released version 8 of the Chrome browser, and Chrome OS uses the browser as its primary interface. And without a doubt, Chrome is looking like the browser to beat. More significantly, Google is working away on its web app store. Chrome OS is a cloud-centric operating system and will depend on a rich ecosystem of online applications if it is to become successful.
According to Engadget:
"Don't forget that those apps are going to be a large part of the OS, so it would make sense for Google to talk about 'em in tandem. The pieces sure do seem to be fitting together quite well, and while we still have lots of unanswered questions, we're feeling confident that we'll be getting some official answers on all this Chrome-ness very soon."
You bet those apps are going to be a large part of the OS. Laptops with lots of local resources that run lots of local apps in addition to cloud-based ones are cheap now. Chrome OS forces users to work exclusively with apps and data in the cloud. The only way for Chrome OS to be competitive with the model it works on is for there to be a super ecosystem of cloud-based apps that users will want Chrome OS netbooks for. The effect has to be similar to the iPhone app store ecosystem and the iPhone, or Chrome OS will face serious problems.
The good news is that it looks like we'll know much more this week about how Google plans to deliver and support Chrome OS and related netbooks. Will it subsidize costs to give the OS a boost? Does it have a richer ecosystem of applications behind the curtain than anyone realized? Those questions should get some interesting answers shortly.