Xoogler Predicts the Future of Chrome

December 14, 2010

Quite a bomb shell in “Gmail Creator Paul Buchheit: Chrome OS Will Perish or Merge with Android.” I don’t know if the prediction will come true, but the notion of two separate operating systems struck me as very expensive and quite confusing. Mr. Buchheit was Mr. Gmail. He then became Mr. Facebook. Now he is Mr. Banker. Xooglers are adaptable. A Xoogler even runs AOL, and that is a fascinating operation to monitor.

But back to the Android Chrome prediction. In my opinion, the key passage in the write up was not the killer tweet; it was:

Google to date has posited that Android and Chrome OS, its two operating systems, address different markets that will remain distinct despite the growing convergence of the devices they run on (netbooks, tablets, smartphones). Google co-founder Sergey Brin, however, has stated in the past that Google will likely “produce a single OS down the road”. Ironically, the key architect of the Chrome OS project, Matthew Papakipos, left Google over the Summer — for a job at Facebook, Paul Buchheit’s most recent former employer.

What will happen? I have learned that predicting Google’s activities to be a difficult challenge for even the most astute prognosticators. I confine my predictions to big fuzzy observations that are never really right or wrong. Quite a goosely skill I might add.

Observations about Android and Chrome are in order:

  • Two of anything offers more choice, but it also means that in a Math Club environment one will have a higher score and, therefore, be more relevant. In short, two generates a list. The winner is the item with the most “votes”. No subjectivity involved. Google is not into subjective search results.
  • Developers who pick the wrong horse are losers. Now I know the theory that Google code works like a champ on anything Google. Well, yes and no. Chrome is a cloud thing and Android is more of a gizmo thing at this time. I sure wouldn’t want to be the developer who backed the wrong horse. Maybe that unified, locked down Apple approach has some charm.
  • Users are not likely to know an Android from a Chrome. The whole Google-is-into-hardware baffles me as well. Apple may end up looking pretty good. Even though the iPad and the iPhone are two different gizmos which means hassles for developers, the look and feel of the iPad and the iPhone is pretty similar. Users probably want consistency and sizzle more than detailed information about the operating system.

In short, Google threw out two “innovations.” Google now has to find a way to deal with the opportunities and downside of moving forward in a way that generates substantive revenue. Meanwhile, little old Apple just keeps cranking out gizmos people want and can use without knowing much, if anything, about the plumbing. User experience maybe?

Stephen E Arnold, December 15, 2010



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