Google Chrome OS: Reviving Netbooks Or Invading Notebooks?
The VAR Guy is watching and listening closely for potential Google Chrome OS launch news. Chrome OS, a lightweight Web operating system for netbooks and notebooks, may grab the spotlight at this week’s Google I/O 2011 conference in San Francisco. There’s speculation Samsung may unveil a Chrome OS netbook at the conference. But here’s the big question: Can Chrome OS revive the struggling netbook market or will Google simply evangelize Chrome OS for notebooks? Either way, there could be hardware as a service (HaaS) opportunities for VARs and MSPs. Here’s why.
When it comes to explaining the Chrome OS strategy, Google uses a pretty simple definition:
“Chrome notebooks are built and optimized for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers. Welcome to Chrome OS.”
Hmmm… It’s interesting to note that Google doesn’t mention netbooks in that home page blurb. Google’s CR48 pilot program also focuses heavily on the notebook term rather than netbook hype. That’s likely a smart move. In Microsoft’s most recent quarterly results, the company disclosed that Windows-based netbook sales fell a drastic 40 percent. Some analysts think Apple’s iPad has triggered the sales slowdown. That’s part of the reason. But there’s another explanation as well: Plenty of first-time netbook buyers from 2008 aren’t coming back to buy more netbooks because they found the devices too small, too cramped and too limited, The VAR Guy believes.
Can Google Chrome OS breathe new life into the netbook market? Hmmm… The VAR Guy isn’t sure. But he has heard dozens of Fortune 500 companies are testing Chrome OS for a range of cloud applications. Also, some folks speculate that Chrome OS devices — perhaps even tablets — will be sold with service provider contracts. Call it Google OS meets hardware as a service.
Which Chrome OS hardware will arrive first? And where will channel partners fit into the conversation? No doubt many answers will surface at this week’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco.