Google Chrome OS, Odds are stacked against Chrome OS's success

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Max Burke, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. Max Burke

    Max Burke Guest

    (WIRED) -- Google's netbook-friendly Chrome OS takes direct aim at
    Microsoft, whose eight-year-old Windows XP leads the netbook market. But
    the odds are stacked against Google.

    Despite its buzz, the odds are stacked against Google's Chrome OS
    becoming a serious rival to Windows.

    In competing with Windows, Google Chrome OS will have to deal with many
    of the same challenges Linux has: compatibility, usability, and
    unfamiliarity. The record isn't good: In the past year, Linux-based
    netbooks have rapidly lost market share to Microsoft, as people find
    that Linux doesn't work as expected, may not support the applications or
    peripherals they're used to using, and is just plain different.

    "The propeller heads or early adopters understood what Linux was about,"
    says Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC, a market research company. "But
    as netbooks have gone mainstream, users want the apps they are familiar
    with rather than the non-standard ones on Linux."

    While sales of netbooks have exploded, Linux's market share on these
    devices has dramatically declined. In 2008, about 24.5% of netbooks
    shipped with an Linux operating system, estimates IDC. This year, it's
    expected to plunge to 4.5% and in 2010, only 3 percent of all netbooks
    will run a Linux OS.

    Even if it offers the same or better features than similarly-equipped
    Windows notebooks, Google Chrome OS will face the same uphill battle
    Linux has.

    Here's what Google needs to figure out to make Chrome OS a success.

    Compatibility with popular applications

    Some of the earliest netbooks featuring Linux faced high rates of return
    because they did not support popular applications, says Shim.

    "Many users found that the universe of applications compatible with
    Windows was much larger than those with Linux," Shim says. "So when they
    looked at their Linux netbooks not only did it run non-standard apps but
    also a graphical interface they weren't familiar with."

    Chrome OS will run on top of a Linux kernel, although Google has said
    that it will have an entirely new interface and will run all web
    applications rather than native Linux apps.

    Multimedia compatibility issues in some flavors of Linux helped add to
    early customer confusion, says Chris Kenyon, director of OEM services at
    Canonical, which supports Ubuntu. "Some of those Linux netbooks that
    didn't have Flash preinstalled or multimedia codecs pre-installed faced
    lot of problems," he says.

    Translation: If a customer can't watch YouTube on her new netbook, she's
    more likely to return the netbook rather than install Adobe's Flash
    plugin for Linux.

    What Google must do: Google Chrome OS can't afford to make those
    mistakes. Flash support and the ability to play a wide variety of
    multimedia files will have to be standard. And where popular application
    support is missing, Google will have to ensure that it provides
    satisfying alternatives (such as Google Docs in place of Microsoft Word).


    User interface is a big factor for computer buyers. Many netbook buyers
    are first-time Linux users. And these newbies have often been stumped by
    the operating system's unusual interface. Even with very Windows-like
    and user-friendly Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, they often don't
    know how to perform simple system management or hardware configuration
    tasks. Options for those exist on the OS but new users have to put in
    the effort to learn, which can be a turnoff. Chrome OS will have to find
    a way to offer its customers a familiar graphical user interface that
    makes it easy to do the tasks they have been used to on a Windows
    operating system.

    "UI is a very significant component for new operating systems," says
    Shim. "You have to fight the first impression that this is different and
    then you have to sell people on why different is better."

    What Google must do: Google needs to integrate Gmail, Google Docs and
    the Chrome web browser in a package that makes it easy to not just use
    these individual programs but also perform other routine tasks, such as
    installing new software or changing display configurations.

    Compatibility with popular hardware

    Google will also be under pressure to ensure Chrome OS works flawlessly
    with gadgets such as cameras, printers, smartphones and e-book readers.
    So far, Linux netbooks have had a spotty record. Some such as Ubuntu or
    Red Hat offer better support for popular gadgets but still users have
    faced compatibility problems. A recent review from the Wall Street
    Journal complained that Linux-based netbooks could not load software
    drivers to print photos to Canon and Dell printers. The review also said
    there were problems loading pictures over a USB cable from the Canon
    PowerShot SD750 digital camera onto a Dell Mini 10 netbook running Ubuntu.

    Another big stumbling block for Google will be iTunes. The popularity of
    iPods means that many people expect their netbook to sync with their
    iPods. However, netbooks running Linux do not support iTunes, including
    Ubuntu, and that means no iPod or iPhone support.

    "iTunes itself doesn't work on Ubuntu but you can use emulators," says
    Kenyon. "It's something we would like to change."

    It also has to be dead-simple to use hardware that's pre-installed on
    your netbook, such as a webcam, a Bluetooth connection, or a 3G wireless
    data card.

    What Google must do: Ubuntu and other Linux vendors may not have the
    clout to get Apple to support Linux, but Google could make it happen for
    Chrome OS. Google and Apple share a close relationship, and Google CEO
    Eric Schmidt is a member of Apple's board of directors.

    Also, drivers for Wi-Fi hardware or webcams in the netbooks come
    pre-loaded with Windows netbooks; Chrome OS will have to ensure it
    offers customers the same simplicity right out of the box
    Max Burke, Jul 11, 2009
    1. Advertisements

  2. Max Burke

    Gordon Guest

    Heck, I do wonder when I will no longer read this stuff.
    "non standard", really? See what I mean about spin. Linux is part of an open

    Once again, how is one able to tell? By a netbook, wipe the HD clean,
    install Linux. CD obtained from a friend, off the Internet by torrent.
    Maybe, but Linux has not gone away. It is growing and so will Google chrome

    Huh?? Oh you mean cross platform programmes. Okay they are zapping from one
    platform to another very well.

    GNU/Linux never has supported anything except freedom. It is not for all the

    Huh? Com on figures. Linux applications are breeding like rabbits.
    I plain give up.
    Ha! Firefox 3.5 is ready to view videos out of the box.

    Oh as I thought a media drug induced feeding session.
    Gordon, Jul 11, 2009
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.