Google’s Chrome operating system might not be live just yet, but already its promise is sending shockwaves through the industry. When the OS is released, Google has its sights set firmly on netbooks, as the company believes its software could be provide an ideal operating system for the small, lightweight PCs as users surf the Web, check their e-mail and perform very basic tasks.
As Google attempts to make its case to netbook owners, it needs to face Nokia and other Linux distributions that also are trying to gain market share in a space that, according to Microsoft, it controls with over 96 percent market share. It won’t be easy. But it will happen.
1. Google Is a Household Name
Say what you will about Linux and Nokia, but neither is a household name. More often than not, people aren’t including Linux in the discourse when they’re discussing PCs. And unless the discussion has something to do with mobile phones, most people aren’t talking about Nokia. But they do know Google. They use a Google service almost every day. And if given the choice between Ubuntu and Google Chrome, there’s little debating that the majority will choose Google’s OS.
2. Linux Scares People
Linux might not scare the advanced tech guru, but for the vast majority of users who don’t have that kind of expertise, Linux does scare them. It’s not Windows and they don’t know how it works. Attaching a Google name to Chrome OS will help allay some of those fears. It will also get some users to switch.
3. Neat New Ideas Get Attention
Although some might believe that a particular Linux distribution is better than Chrome OS when it’s released, it’s doubtful that the majority of users will care. Neat new ideas are rewarded when they first launch. From there, those that don’t like the experience will drop off. But until then, most of the people who will be choosing an operating system other than Windows will be waiting to see what Chrome OS will offer. And once they realize just how unique it is to the operating system market, Ubuntu will be the last OS on their minds.
4. The Other Distributions Aren’t So Great
Linux is a fine operating system when used on a standard notebook or desktop. But in my experience, the OS doesn’t translate as well on a netbook. The experience is buggy. Several accessories that I try to use on the OS don’t work. And for the most part, it’s an awkward experience. Moving from Mac OS X is easier than moving from Windows, but in either case, using Linux just isn’t as user-friendly as I might have liked.
Chrome Has the Winning Hand
5. Google Has the Cash
Linux followers might use the size and might of Microsoft as their rallying cry, but it has helped Microsoft dominate the operating system market. It will also help Google dominate competing Linux distributions. In the software market, having the money to throw into marketing to get an operating system in front of the right people can make all the difference. Other Linux distributions don’t have that kind of cash. Google does.
6. The Halo Effect Is Strong
When moving to Linux, there’s little else that compels users to make the move other than their distaste for “mainstream” operating systems. The same might be true in Nokia’s case. Working to its advantage, Google has several services, including Search, Gmail and Docs, that might ease users into Chrome OS. After all, they use other Google products online with much success. Why not try out its operating system?
7. Microsoft Is in the Game
This might sound counterintuitive, but the very fact that Microsoft will be trying to match Chrome OS will help Google’s operating system. Microsoft will legitimize Chrome OS by releasing an operating system that competes directly with Google’s product. An online OS war will erupt. It will garner the attention of media outlets, and that will filter down into the consumer base. And in the process, Chrome OS will easily overshadow competing Linux distributions.
8. It’s the Future
Although there’s still some serious work left to do, online operating systems are the future. As software moves to the cloud, it was only a matter of time before the operating system did too. It might not have the same kind of functionality as Windows, but it will make for a convenient, readily available operating system that, I think, people will respond well to. The Web is where the tech industry is going. And Google is on the cutting edge.
9. Google Likes Open Source
One of the main reasons why Linux has gained such a loyal following is because it’s the open-source operating system. Those who want to tweak with design, add or remove features, or just have fun changing their operating system can do that with Linux. There’s just one problem: They can do that with Google’s Chrome OS, and soon they can play a role in improving it.
10. Chrome OS Is Linux
Lest we forget, Chrome OS is based on Google Chrome and the Linux kernel. In other words, Chrome OS is Linux. Why would a person looking to use Linux opt for something other than Google’s operating system? Sure, there will be some who stay true to Ubuntu and the rest, but for the vast majority of folks who don’t follow the space so closely, Chrome OS will quickly become synonymous with Linux with those people. And that can’t be good for competing distributions.