The premise behind Google Chrome OS is that it is a lightweight operating system designed to run on a lightweight computer. Initially, the operating system will be released with a relatively small number of netbooks. Netbooks have proved wildly popular in recent years and are by far the fastest growing computer market. Google is harnessing this growth to launch its new operating system.
Chrome OS will be based upon an open source Linux client. This is interesting, as it shows Google’s willingness to work with the large online open source community. It is also worth noting that Google is building upon an existing platform rather than building its own proprietary operating system from scratch. While this slightly reduces the identity of Chrome OS as a sole product of Google, it does help cut down production cost and time as well as engender a sense of familiarity with users who have previously run Linux.
Google has already established deals with numerous computer vendors to have the free Chrome OS software included with many netbooks when shipped. This is not entirely different from the existing practice of including a free distribution of Linux with many netbooks. Google benefits from this as an existing practice, but is hurt because they will not be reducing the cost of a Microsoft alternative—simply matching it.
Since Google cannot compete with its non-Microsoft competitors on cost, it will have to beat Linux with quality. If it can beat Microsoft on cost and Linux on quality, then it will have a good chance at capturing a sizable share of the market. Of course, it would not hurt for it to beat Microsoft on quality as well.
Little else is known about Chrome OS or its scheduled release as of yet. It is likely that as we get into 2010 and closer to the intended time for its release, Google will release details and begin building more hype for its future product.
It will be interesting to see if Google sticks to their previous marketing tactics of relying upon user word-of-mouth and their own advertising network. This is a stark contrast to the preferred styles of Microsoft and Apple, both of which utilize massive marketing budgets to flood television as well as other forms of less traditional advertising.
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