Will Google's Chrome OS be dead on arrival?

Chrome-based notebooks are still months away from release, but it's not at all clear that when they finally arrive, people will want them. Given that Android tablets and Windows-based netbooks will be likely available at the same price as Chrome netbooks, will anyone want to buy a device that isn't designed to run local apps?

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, in his IT World blog, says he doesn't expect Chrome-based notebooks to appear until the second quarter of 2011. I don't have any reason to disagree.

By that time, Android tablets will likely have arrived in large numbers. I expect that there will be a wide range of them with many different niches and price points. So expect low-priced Android-based tablets to compete with Chrome netbooks.

Chrome is designed for life in the cloud, and at least in its original design specs was targeted to run Web-based apps rather than any apps on netbooks themselves. At the time Chrome was designed, that made sense and was forward-looking. But today, with the raging successes of Android phones, the iPhone, the iPad, and Android tablets coming soon, apps are king. Any device that doesn't run apps will have a hard time gaining acceptance.

Given the choice between a tablet that runs apps, and a netbook that doesn't, my guess is that people will opt for a tablet, if the price of the two is the same. True, netbooks have keyboards, but they tend to be cramped. Using nifty apps like Swype, inputting text on Android devices, even without a keyboard, is fairly painless. And given that Android has voice recognition features for inputting text, there are other options as well.

And for those who still opt for netbooks, Windows-based netbooks can run apps locally, as well as run Web-based apps. Why buy a Chrome netbook that limits your choice?

Given the squeeze Chrome netbooks will be under --- from tablets on one end, and Windows netbooks on the other --- I don't expect them to sell in large numbers.

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