Analysts Discuss Chrome OS Prospects

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-19 Print this article Print

Pund-IT analyst Charles King said that tablets are currently a market with one vendor -- a situation that will change radically as we get closer to the holidays and into 2011.

Indeed, several tablets based on Android are coming to the fore. The Dell Streak launches in the U.S. next month, and Google and Verizon are designing a tablet together.

Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab for later this year. HP and several of the vendors building Chrome OS netbooks are building Android tablets for the masses as well.  

Of course, Chrome OS may well thrive on tablets as well, or any form factor that supports a consumer's need to boot up instantly and be online. Earlier this year, Google engineers posted pictures of a Chrome OS tablet prototype.

Certainly Google hasn't been bashful about its desire to get its software paired with ads on as many Web-connected devices as possible. "From Google's perspective, it makes sense to be on as many devices as possible, no matter what the form factor," Epps added.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa believes Google must perform a delicate balancing act, justifying to OEMs the value of offering tablets with two different OS'.

"Google is unlikely to do anything to hurt the momentum of Android and they should indeed be careful not to create confusion with device makers on this," Hilwa said. "There is such a thing as too much choice when OEMs may hesitate to commit as they try to understand a product's positioning or differentiation."

Google also doesn't want to confuse consumers. A Chrome OS tablet might cannibalize an Android tablet. Worse, two OS' may paralyze consumers into not buying either and send them for an iPad or Windows 7-based tablet instead.

Hilwa said the consumer market may be headed toward storing everything centrally in the cloud, making multiple devices a necessity.

"That is the where Chrome OS is going I believe," said Hilwa. "How that dovetails with the Android strategy of today is still to be worked out."

Hilwa said one solution could be that Google makes Chrome OS an alternative personality for Android specific to those devices that intend to share information centrally and may be embedded as an optional feature in Android down the road.

Pund-IT's King said Chrome OS' future looks bright: "Computer users and usage are becoming increasingly mobile and Internet-centric," King said. "If that's truly the case, then demand for Web-centric OSs like Chrome could grow over time.



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