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.

To express your thoughts on Computerworld content, visit Computerworld's Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter stream.
Fix Windows 10 problems with these free Microsoft tools
Shop Tech Products at Amazon