How do you feel about a smartphone based on Google's Chrome operating system, the Web-based OS currently making its way to Amazon.com and Best Buy online via Samsung and Acer notebooks June 15?
I can imagine the marketing campaigns for this. Chrome Home with Chrome Phone!
On the Street.com, Anton Wahlman, a former sell-side equity research analyst covering the communications space, opined that Google will launch its own Google Phone and that it will be based on Chrome OS, not Android.
Step into my Hot Tub Time Machine for a moment. Recall that in January 2010, Google rolled out the HTC-built Nexus One smartphone unlocked and with a T-Mobile contract, selling it solely online.
It surely tested the waters, but then promptly sunk to the level of developer phone.
What Wahlman is proposing is different. He sees Google taking the Chrome OS cloud paradigm -- the verified boot process and speedy startup -- to the phone form factor.
The reason? Security perks of the cloud. While current Android devices accept application downloads, Wahlman argues that a cloud-centric OS such as Chrome with apps solely in the cloud. He noted:
"This device would only have two major software parts -- the OS and the only allowed browser. However, the OS treats the browser as a de-facto hostile application, not allowing it to modify the OS including locally install any applications."
Like the notebooks Chrome OS currently powers, the Chrome OS phone would require less memory, less local storage and a less powerful CPU.
Theoretically, Google could launch these "shells," which could be easily replaceable because users' data lives in the cloud.
This model would bury Research In Motion's BlackBerry Enterprise Server, noted Wahlman, with Chrome OS providing a simpler management console for provisioning device access, activity in the browser and account device management.
Interesting theories. Google had promised that Chrome OS was intended for clamshell-style computers only and yet we know Google engineers are toying with Chrome OS tablets. Why not a phone?
I'm thinking Google could maybe sell these bad boys for $99 or less, subsidized by ads. That would be a good price point for those tired of spending $200 or more for fully Web-enabled phones. But would it be good enough for carriers who like the phone margins?
Wahlman believes Google could use pure VOIP via Google Voice and Google Talk. Hmmm. The last time Google tried to disrupt the carrier market in such stellar fashion, only T-Mobile played ball; the market leaders coughed and laughed.
Then again, if Google launches its own mobile broadband network, an offshoot of Google Fiber, maybe Google wouldn't have to curry favor with the carrier giants. Just sayin'.
Wahlman has four pages, which you may read here, to fortify his argument. I can buy it, but only in so far as Chrome OS sees a modicum of success in its current instantiations.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on why this would or wouldn't work.