One week ago, Google CEO Eric Schmidt surprised we media folk at the Web 2.0 Summit with the news that Chrome Operating System was a "few months away."
Try as I might, I never did get a good reason why. Now it seems Google, after months of hyping the Chrome browser on ESPN.com and The New York Times online, has turned to serving up print ads. For Google Chrome. The Web browser?
Search Engine Land discovered this ad Nov. 21 in the Los Angeles Times, which advertises not just Chrome but educates on Web browsers in general.
Google actually launched the "online guidebook" Website called "20 Things I Learned about Browsers and the Web" three days prior to the ad running, and I didn't think much of it beyond it being a celebration of the browser. A pretty dry one at that.
After all, Google has been doing a lot of this since launching Chrome in 2008. The most recent I remember is the cool HTML5 and Chrome-based Arcade Fire experiment. In October 2009, Google launched Whatbrowser.org, which defines what a Web browser is and lets users download the applications that let us surf the Web.
It's 2010. I think anyone that is searching Google knows what a Web browser is.
When SEL's Danny Sullivan asked Google about the ad campaign, Google fed him a stock answer:
"We're running these ads in several newspapers in major cities in the United States to raise awareness about the guidebook and point readers to it, especially if they find it useful and educational. We hope some readers will pick up a new factoid or piece of insight even from the ad itself about how browsers and the web work. They'll be running this month."
Who are they kidding? Sorry, but the people who go to Google each day don't care a lick about what goes into a browser, let alone TCP/IP and data packets, which is indeed a part of the browser "handbook."
Most people would rather study paint drying to divine some deeper meaning.
Perhaps the ads and Websites are marketing foundations for the Chrome OS ecosystem. Indeed, the author of the blog post is a Chrome marketing manager.
If someone asked me to guess Google's strategy here, I'd say the browser is important as the gateway to Google's cloud, which is the essence of its strategy on the desktop and mobile Web going forward.
It's a lot easier to grok a browser that people can see and touch, and then perhaps ease people into the concept of the cloud: this ether of Web data, supported by fields of servers, and ultimately accessed by the browser.
But will it help people buy Chrome OS netbooks when they're available? That's the real question, isn't it?