Gmail creator Paul Bucheit and coiner of Google's "Don't Be Evil" credo has as good a non-technical explanation of Google's cloud strategy and Chrome Operating System on his personal blog Dec. 18.
Bucheit added the color after his cavalier tweet, "Prediction: ChromeOS will be killed next year (or "merged" with Android)," kicked the proverbial hornets' nest.
As Bucheit explains it, the cloud is essentially synonymous with mobile computing, which we pundits believe is synonymous with computing freedom. He wrote:
For example, in the bad old days, you would install a copy Outlook or other email software on your PC, it would download all of your email to your computer, and then the email would live on that computer until Outlook corrupted its PST file and everything was lost. If you accidentally left your computer at home, or it was stolen, then you simply couldn't get to your email. Information behaved much like a physical object -- it was always in one place. That's an unnecessary and annoying limitation. By moving my e-mail into "the cloud", I can escape the limitations of physical location and am able to reach it from any number of computers, phones, televisions, or whatever else connects to the Internet. For performance and coverage reasons, those devices will usually cache some of my email, but the canonical version always lives online.
Later, he added that one way of understanding the cloud "is to view the entire Internet as a single computer."
"This computer is a massively distributed system with billions of processors, billions of displays, exabytes of storage, and it's spread across the entire planet. Your phone or laptop is just one part of this global computer, and its primarily purpose is to provide a convenient interface."
He just summed up Google's cloud computing strategy better than Google ever did with its jargon and high-level geek speak.
Naturally, Bucheit points to the Gmail Android client, which is constantly syncing and caching users' Gmail between their smartphones and desktop access to Google's cloud of servers.
For the purpose of Chrome OS, this means doing away with installing software locally on each machine. The machines let users download Web apps for easy access. Everything is in the cloud.
He also suggested Richard Stallman, who criticized Chrome OS and the cloud at large last week, had taken a "curmudgeonly" position.
Why does Bucheit think Chrome OS is in trouble, or at least in a tough position?
"I actually like the idea of ChromeOS, so why did I predict its demise? The answer is that we already have millions of devices that almost meet the same ideal, and they are running iOS and Android."
Put that way, it makes sense. Apple's iPad and tablet based on Android are blowing up the consumer electronics market. Perhaps Chrome OS is a year too late?
I can't presume to know whether Chrome OS will fail, though I suspect it may on netbooks. As I wrote last week, if the Web OS makes its way to tablets -- remember, it's open source -- I can see this technology playing quite well.
If not, well Google has ordered 60,000 Cr-48s we media and blogger types can enjoy as hobbyists.