Google Chrome Ad Sows Seed for Chrome OS

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-05-04 Print this article Print

Many publications have called attention to the new Google Chrome Web browser advertisements Google began running on network television May 3.

The 90-second ad spot, dubbed "Dear Sophie," shows a father who sets up a Gmail account for his daughter.

He begins emailing her pictures (from Google's Picasa Web Albums) of her life's stages from birth to roughly the age of 6 or 7, at which point he's uploading YouTube videos of her riding a bike and taking ballet.

The father is accessing all of this Web-based email, photo and video content from the Chrome Web browser. See for yourself:

Given the emotionally powerful content of the ad spot, it would be easy to overlook Google's broad message, which is this: People can host their email, photo and video content in Google Web services such as Gmail and access it from Chrome forever.

Google is essentially promising that users will be able to create their digital scrapbook and access it through Chrome. Ironically, this is not unlike the Microsoft Live TV ad that touts shuttling content "to the cloud."

According to The New York Times, which spoke to Google about the ad:

Google says it cares so much about promoting Chrome because the more people use the Web, the more they use Google. For example, when Chrome users enter search queries in the big box at the top of the browser, which Google calls the omnibox, they go directly to Google search results.

David B. Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School, told the Times: "The problem for both Firefox and Chrome is how are they going to convince customers that they have a significantly better product, worth the hassle of actually going and downloading something that's new and different."

Sure, Google is looking to increase exposure for the Chrome browser, which has more than 120 million users (according to Google) and commands (according to Net Applications), there is another reason why this is significant.

Google will rack up only so many users via the "download" route. So where else can Google build Chrome market share? Via the Chrome operating system, which is expected to arrive on netbooks and/or notebooks this summer.

As a lightweight, Web-based Chrome OS is a departure from Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac operating systems that reside locally on and serve as central command for PCs and laptops.

Chrome OS is the platform on which the Chrome browser will run. Chrome browser is to Microsoft Internet Explorer as Chrome OS is to Microsoft Windows, only running entirely in the cloud, which is where the email, photos and videos of people such as the father in the ad spot, are stored.

Getting the picture now? With Chrome and Chrome OS, Google is preparing for a full-frontal assault on the Windows personal and professional computing dynasty. Spotlighting Chrome on TV will build awareness for the coming Chrome OS push.

Google last December promised delivery on Samsung and Acer machines in the second half of 2011. That timing is still on target.

We already know Chrome OS machines exist, such as Samsung's "Alex" netbook, and there have been whispers that Google will sell consumers netbooks or notebooks as a subscription service with Gmail for $10 or $20 a month.

I expect we'll hear more about how Chrome OS is coming along at Google's I/O developer conference in San Francisco next week. |

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