Chrome: A Shiny Wrap for the Plumbing of the Google
July 8, 2009
Short honk: The other shoe has fallen. I can’t compete with the hundreds of analyses of Google’s announcement that its Chrome browser is not really a browser after all. Not much of a news flash for the goslings at Beyond Search’s headquarters in rural Kentucky. Quite a few of Google watchers were surprised, and that is encouraging because Google has other shoes to drop. A few are not even shoes. Think steel toed boots that will make a big noise in the database world when the Google decides the time is propitious to upset the well-ordered lives of IBM and Oracle.
For the moment, however, I want to point you to TechMeme’s excellent write up “Google Drops a Nuclear Bomb on Microsoft and It’s Made of Chrome”. For me, the key sentence in the article was:
What Google is doing is not recreating a new kind of OS, they’re creating the best way to not need one at all.
There you have it. An open source alternative to Microsoft’s desktop operating system. Windows Mobile never had a chance against Android. The fine Vista product gave Google time to snap together bits and pieces to create a non-operating system. Now that Windows 7 is getting press and the Wall Street SlimFast gulping wizards are salivating over the Windows 7 revenue bonanza, the Google tosses a sneaker from the math club window, and it hits on a slow news day and bounces up to give Mr. Redmond a nose bleed. Ouch.
Let me offer several addled goose observations:
- The open source angle is a nifty one. Google does the “community” a service and automatically enlists those math club members world wide in a mission to snap a chastity belt on Microsoft’s promiscuous software
- The earlier notion of Chrome as a browser wows the azure chip consultants, the Google pundits, and the legions of analysts who bought into the idea that the browser wars were back and competition among browsers was a good thing for everyone. Close but no cigar. Chrome is code shim on steroids.
- With Chrome, Google takes one step closer to the 21st century embodiment of the full service digital Swiss Army knife. Viewed from one angle, Google is a publisher. Viewed from another, Google offers an operating system, embraces and validates cloud computing, and makes it financially more difficult for a competitor or a government to duplicate the Google’s “as is” infrastructure. (The British government wants to use the Google instead of its bungled national health information service. Sure, the Microsoft Health Vault will get a piece of the action, but this is a Google centric play, not a Microsoft centric play from what I hear.
To wrap up, the Google is now officially on the march. Microsoft is just a way station on this modern day pilgrimage. What is at the end? I think Google needs a flag because it now looks more like an emerging nation than a services and software company. Chrome is an “as is” play. Dataspaces are “to be” and qualify as a steel toed boot. If you think Microsoft is the only target, you may want to step back and look at the larger universe of computing services in my opinion.
Stephen Arnold, July 8, 2009