Why Google Won't Merge Chrome OS and Android

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 14, 2013

There are big moves going on at Google, with possible implications for the company's operating systems Chrome OS and Android. Longtime Android chief Andy Rubin is stepping aside, although he is staying at Google. Meanwhile, Sundar Pichai, VP of Chrome and Apps, is a star on the rise. Pichai has been overseeing the delivery of Google's well-recieved Chromebooks, and many of its very slick apps, in addition to steering Chrome OS forward.

The moves at Google are causing some to speculate, once again, that Google will merge Android with Chrome OS. Here is why it won't happen.

The Verge is among sites arguing that Android and Chrome OS may be headed for a merger, noting this:

"Most likely, it will mean that Google will merge Chrome OS and Android together into a single operating system. It won't happen right away, and it will require Pichai to manage and integrate two different teams with potentially different philosophies about the future of computing, but if he can pull if off, Google's platform will be in direct competition with Windows as the biggest mainstream operating system in the world. And while it's easy to spin up cotton-candy dreams of a future OS, the building blocks already available to Google offer up real potential for this OS to become just as dominant as Android itself."

While there may be more strategic alignment between Android and Chrome OS, these operating systems won't merge because there is no reason for them to, and merging them would be a massive development headache.

Apple is enormously successful with its Mac OS, but Mac OS is not iOS. Likewise, Microsoft's Windows is not the same as Microsoft's mobile platform. We are moving into a world where mobile technology usage is so ubiquitous and important that mobile operating systems have to be dedicated to serving lean, efficient apps designed for smartphones, tablets and other new mobile devices. Chrome OS functions best as a computer-based platform at this point.

A lot of people fail to realize how quickly Android has become a major platform. Back in 2009, Android was on one phone, and it wasn't clear whether it would survive. Now it's an entrenched platform that many phone and tablet manufacturers have a stake in. Google won't haphazardly dive into a development mish-mash of Android and Chrome OS and doesn't really have any reason to.

Chromebooks are succeeding, and Chrome OS is succeeding with them. The Chrome browser is a success. Android is a dominant mobile OS. These are different platforms, though, and Google doesn't have to turn them into a cocktail.