There’s been a lot of hype on the internet about whether Google’s new operating system will succeed. You have all sorts of people in the predicting game about whether it will be a great success or a doomed failure. While I don’t think we can really predict what will really happen, there are some things we can say.
1. Google is Google
Google certainly has an advantage here. It’s called the Google brand. Almost anything that has the Google brand tagged to it is trusted – by millions of people around the globe. People already use other Google products, not least its search engine. You also have Google Docs, Gmail and a host of other services that it offers and that people trust. On the flip side, however, not all Google products are automatically destined for success. Look what happened to Google Video; even though it was launched before Youtube, it failed to get as popular and Google ended up buying Youtube. Then you have its social networking site orkut which is relatively unknown.
2. Google V. Microsoft
There really hasn’t been any serious competitor to Microsoft’s superpower status in the operating system world. Google has got an advantage in that it has the financial and technical might to be a serious challenge to Redmond. Apple don’t offer their operating systems without the hardware that couples it, so it really isn’t a serious challenge. The difference with Google Chrome OS is that it will run on most (if not all) netbooks and so people will be able to download the new operating system directly on their netbooks. No need for specialized hardware. What will Microsoft’s reaction be? Time will tell.
You can’t really beat free. But then again, knowing Microsoft and what it did with Netscape eventually forcing it out of the browser market, who knows what tactics will be used.
Built on a rock solid Linux foundation is a great advantage. There are no viruses on Linux. You don’t have to reboot a Linux machine after installing an office suite. Enough said.
5. Drivers and Programs
I think this is the biggest obstacle to the success of Google Chrome OS. If Google can overcome this barrier, all others are relatively irrelevant. The fact is that there are many programs that run solely on the Windows platform. Likewise, there is a lot of hardware that also runs only on Windows. Many hardware companies simply don’t write drivers for the other operating systems. And it’s a catch 22 situation: not enough manufacturers will write the drivers for an operating system until there are enough people using it. But you won’t find mass exodus to a non-Microsoft operating system until it supports a huge amount of hardware drivers. The same goes for software. No doubt, Google certainly has the might to try to overcome this to some level, but will it be able to write drivers for all those old printers and webcams that people have?
6. Open Source
The advantage of open source along with the backing of the search giant is that you have thousands and thousands of programmers all helping to make the software better and the expertize and financial backing of a huge company. It is this that may help to create the large number of hardware drivers that the new operating system will need to help its growth. Already, many programmers write hardware drivers (and indeed a lot of software) for Linux pro bona. This is certainly a plus in Google’s court.
In conclusion, we can’t really predict the success or failure of the Google Chrome OS. Only time will tell. However, one thing is for certain: with more choice for consumers there is a greater pressure on all the vendors to provide better software.