Google's Chrome OS platform could potentially be a major headline-stealer in 2011. Not only does it come from one of the most important (and prominent) tech companies in the industry, but it delivers a unique operating system experience that consumers and even some enterprise customers will be keen on getting to know more about.
But as Google continues to improve its Web-based platform and prepares it for wide release in consumer markets, the question remains of whether or not it will be a success. On one hand, folks might realize that the operating system features some really neat ideas that consumers would like. But on the other hand, they might quickly realize that it's facing so many external pressures along with some serious limitations of its own that could significantly affect its ability to compete in the OS market.
1. It comes down to capability
When it's all said and done, customers will judge Google's Chrome OS platform by what they can do with it. And at first glance, they can do quite a bit, including check e-mail, surf the Web, edit Office documents, and perform many of the basic tasks they enjoy right now on desktop-based alternatives. But further inspection reveals that they won't be able to do as much as they can on, say, Windows or Mac OS X. Those operating systems are far more powerful and deliver some key features, like HD video editing and encoding, that just won't be so easily do-able on Chrome OS.
2. Beating Windows is a tall order
Microsoft's Windows operating system has a dominant share over the operating system market around the world. The chances of that changing anytime soon due to Chrome OS seem slim, to say the least. Microsoft is still the chosen operating system for both consumers and enterprise customers alike. Until Google can convince those key parties to switch, it could have a hard time making Chrome OS a success.
3. The enterprise consideration
Speaking of the enterprise, it seems like one key area where Google's operating system will fall short. The enterprise requires several features in an operating system, including power, software compatibility, security, and much more. And at least in some of those cases, Google's Chrome OS falls short. That's a problem. The enterprise has proven central to the success or failure of several software and hardware platforms throughout the years. That's not going to change. If Google can't attract the corporate world at all, it could have some trouble making Chrome OS a long-term success.
4. The important question: Is it necessary?
When consumers finally decide if they want a product or not, they need to figure out if it's necessary. That could be one of the major issues standing in the way of Chrome OS becoming successful. Consumers that are still trying to get their heads above water as the Great Recession hammers the world aren't necessarily so keen on trying out a new operating system that won't work as well at launch as the one they already have. On the smartphone side, they can live with it. But on the PC side, Chrome OS is likely an unacceptable option for those searching for a single efficient device to spend their hard-earned cash compared to an operating system they know and (mostly) trust.