Fresh pictures of Google's Chrome Operating System running on a tablet computer are dominating high-tech talk today. Here's a glimpse:
People are anxious to see what Chrome OS can do. Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google, said Chrome OS is slated to appear on netbooks first in the November-December 2010 timeframe.
There's already talk of an integrated media player running in the Chrome Web browser and OS.
Technologies that do in the browser what Microsoft has done with an on-premises download look attractive to a lot of people these days. Call it cloud envy.
Here is what one can do on a Chrome OS tablet:
So let's step back and consider the early, early airing of a Chrome OS user interface,
on the Chromium developer Website here by Google Chrome User Interface Lead Glen Larson.
Apparently the tablet pics were published last Monday, two days before Apple CEO Steve Jobs solved the mystery that is the iPad tablet, showing off the device and announcing tiered pricing for the new couch toy.
Amazing that the Chrome OS tablet pics didn't come to light before the iPad launch, the resulting coverage of which was ruled by speculation of the iPad's effect on forthcoming Chrome OS netbooks. Perhaps the promise of the iPad prompted Larson to show off a little of what's behind the Chrome wizard's curtain.
I like what I see here. It's very Chrome-like, mixed with a virtual keypad, almost like what you'd imagine using Chrome on a smartphone would be like. Makes me wonder if and why Android will appear on tablets from computer makers.
ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez positions the iPad versus Chrome OS tablet as posing two very different choices for consumers:
"And when it comes time to buy, consumers will have to make a choice: what sort of tablet is the future of computing? Apple's locked-down and closed ecosystem of apps running on proprietary hardware or Google's browser-based OS that's as open as the web itself?"
I agree with the premise, though I'm not sure the majority of people who buy these tablets are going to be thinking closed versus open. They may be thinking Apple versus Google, which is where the broader battle is headed, much like the Microsoft versus Apple battle of the last couple decades.
Price will also be a factor, or could be. If Google produces cheaper tablets and netbooks, then expect them to be snapped up with all of the vigor and excitement with which people have purchased Asustek's Eee PCs.
But never underestimate the power and rabid enthusiasm of Jobs' Cult of Apple. iPads will fly off of the shelves, particularly when second versions come around and if Apple can reconcile its Flash aversion.
Whether Google can succeed in selling netbooks and tablets powered by Chrome OS remains to be seen. Apple's been making computers for 30 years, but this is new territory for search and advertising giant Google.