Chrome OS Is No Threat to Apple for Now

by Albert Wan Dec 02, 2009

In a keynote address, Google recently unveiled its operating system, Chrome OS. Relying heavily on the Google Chrome browser (which still has not arrived on the Mac), Chrome OS intends to move all data to the cloud and have all of its apps accessible through a browser.

Crazy? Innovative? Not really. Apple had this idea too, and it was a dud. Apple had the goal of web apps and cloud computing with the iPhone during its release in 2007, but it was met with large opposition. At the time, with the version 1.0 software, iPhone users did not have any apps installed on their phones: everything was done through the Safari browser. As jailbreaking became popular in the latter half of 2007, it was clear to Apple and to the tech industry that the world was not ready for total cloud computing and web applications, leaving Apple to partially open up its iPhone OS with the software development kit in 2008. The rest is history.

Being the tech geek that I am, I downloaded a build of Chrome OS and ran it under virtualization on my Mac a couple hours after the presentation. After playing around with the operating system for about five minutes, I realized that it closely followed Apple's web application: the Chrome OS is essentially the Chrome browser. That's it. Nothing else. There's no text editor like TextEdit or Notepad, no Terminal or Command Prompt for any modifications. Nothing. Just the browser and that's it.

Google's goal for users to move data off of their own local drives to the cloud is a daunting one. With the recent horror stories regarding T-Mobile and the Sidekick, cloud computing is still steps away from becoming fully reliable; Google itself even experienced its own cloud outage back in May of this year. Apple's MobileMe also experienced its share of periodic outages, leaving users outraged at unreliable service for such a steep price. While chances of the cloud failing while working is decreasing steadily, working locally is still the optimal solution: blackouts do not affect laptops, connection to the Internet is not needed, and the data is stored safely on the computer rather than on a server "in the cloud." By being completely reliant on the cloud today, users are susceptible to potentially unavailable and even lost data without their knowledge.

With that said, Google's Chrome OS is not a threat to Apple (or even Microsoft) at this time. Most users are still comfortable to carry data locally since the Internet is not available everywhere a user goes. When that problem is solved (tethering for the masses comes to mind) and data security and accessibility is solid enough, Chrome OS could possibility be a threat to Mac OS X and Windows.

However, Chrome OS does target a select group of users today. With some only needing an email client and a web browswer, Chrome OS is an optimal solution. iChat, iTunes, iLife, and several other applications would almost never be used. Netbook users come to mind, and it is entirely possible that Chrome OS will become the de facto operating system on netbooks in the future, a market in which, Apple does not have a product yet.



  • Chrome reminds us of the direction operating systems are going - to a future when most consumers don’t care or even don’t know what OS they are using.  Sort of like phones today. 

    Speaking of phones, we are merging various platforms, with phones, tablets, slates, cloud computing, network entertainment systems.  They don’t need much more than a common protocol.

    At one time CoBOL was the dominant business programming language.  It isn’t anymore, but nothing replaced it, and it is still used for lots and lots of applications.  We won’t have another dominant programming language.  And we won’t have another dominant home operating system.

    Howard Brazee had this to say on Dec 30, 2009 Posts: 54
  • It’s not quite that simple, Howard. The only way we can ignore the Operating system is if it is safe, secure and operates predictably. That case is not yet true and won’t be for about ten to twenty years. The reason is that Microsoft Windows is not a secure operating system; it is a stand alone disk system which was not designed for the rigors of the internet.

    Tens of billions of dollars each year are wasted on virus’, worms, adware, spyware which only appears on Windows systems. All of the Unix based operating system do not have such things, so they require no anti-virus software. Anti-virus software only works after the fact; it does not prevent attacks.

    UrbanBard had this to say on Dec 30, 2009 Posts: 111
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