Confusing for Developers?
Carl Howe, an analyst with the Yankee Group, said of the Chrome OS announcement, "Google just made this market more confusing for developers except for one thing: if you develop an application for the cloud (i.e. an online application), it will work anywhere. And maybe that's the most attractive solution." Howe said the Chrome OS presents developers with different challenges in terms of choice, implementation cost, and marketing for the applications. Regarding choice, the Chrome OS will mean that Google developers will have to decide whether to write for Android or Chrome. And at least for the initial implementation developers will make that decision based on whether they're writing for a netbook or a mobile phone, he said.And regarding marketing, Howe said, writing an application is just the start; someone has to sell it as well. "Google has not yet become a powerhouse of application distribution, while competitors like Apple have services like the iTunes App Store that are setting the world on fire," he said. "Again, developers have to weight whether they want to follow their platform allegiances or the money." Dylan Schiemann, CEO of SitePen and co-founder of the Dojo Toolkit, said of Chrome OS:
Moreover, regarding implementation cost, Howe said, "Developers overall now have to start thinking about how many times they want to implement the same applications. Apple already makes 90 percent of the code the same for applications that run on both Macs and iPhones. It's conceivable that Apple could introduce a netbook that ran iPhone apps natively, making that process even easier. Being able to develop once, sell on many platforms is really a holy grail for software developers and may sway their choices of platforms going forward."
"It reminds me somewhat of Palm's WebOS. I think it's currently a confusing message with regards to the differences between Android and Chrome OS. At the end of the day, it really depends what features they make available to web application developers. One of the reasons pure web apps aren't enough for the iPhone, for example, is that there's no mechanism for web applications to access features like the camera. "PhoneGap does an interesting job in trying to fill that gap, giving web applications access to native features and then being installed and deployed as native apps wrapped in a browser. Microsoft's Gazelle also offers an interesting fit in this space, somewhere between what a traditional browser does and what Chrome OS proposes to become. If anything, the market is becoming much more interesting!"