Chrome OS, Not Android, is Google’s Future

Google recently updated their Chromebook offering and began running new commercials touting the new product. At $249 it is an aggressive price offering, however, the software by way of web apps will be the key. Although, we are not in a full HTML or browser based world for our key applications, I believe there is a good chance that someday we will be. In many of the scenarios I play out in my head about the future, Chrome and Chrome OS is more important to Google than Android.

There is a debate happening in the industry about whether or not we are heading toward a future where all computing takes place in the browser or where all computing takes place with native or installed software.

Today we download and install software or apps on our PCs, smart phones, tablets, and connected TVs. In the future this may not always be the case. It’s possible that in the future all of our software will run in the browser, not natively as an installed application. We call these applications “web apps.” In my opinion, in the future we won’t install apps we will access them.

A web app is an application that is used through a web browser instead of being downloaded and installed onto your PC or device. A web app has all the functionality of an installed application. The only major difference is that to use a web app you need to be connected to the Internet.

You may think that idea is crazy. We aren’t always connected to the Internet, so why would you want to use software that you can’t use when you’re not connected? That’s a good question. However, if you think about many of the things you use a computer for on a regular basis you will find that they require a connection: E-mail, Facebook, twitter, surfing the Internet, searching the Internet, web browsing, downloading, streaming, and a whole lot more all require the Internet. I’d be willing to bet that for most people, the Internet is involved in over 90% of the things they do with a PC.

But to be fair, most of us are used to what we call the hybrid experience; one in which we take advantage of Internet-based content when possible, while relying on local apps during the times we can’t connect via the various devices we might use in our daily lives.

I had an experience recently where the power went out where I live. This power outage affected a major power source for the cellular service provider data towers, so although I had cell service, I had no mobile data. Between having no mobile data and my power being off, which knocked out my DSL connection, I was literally without the Internet.

It was at that time I realized that without the Internet, my notebook was basically a paperweight. Of course that’s not completely true but everything I needed to do in that moment required the Internet. That experience got me to thinking about all the things I do regularly that require the Internet.

I came up with a list, and the only things I use my PC for that don’t require the Internet are writing, editing photos and making videos. And without the Internet, I can’t send or share my writing or photos or videos.

With that in mind, the argument which states that the Internet should not be required for us to use our computers doesn’t hold water. The reality for most of us is that the Internet is a critical part of our everyday experience with our computers.

This Is Where Chrome OS Comes In

Google recently launched Chromebooks in conjunction with Samsung and Acer. Chromebooks are essentially PCs but with the major difference being that Google’s Chrome browser is the only thing installed on the PC.

Google’s vision for Chromebooks is one similar to the one I described. This vision is where everything we do with our PCs happens inside the browser.

This future heavily depends on where the industry takes future versions of HTML and Javascript. As HTML and Javascript advance, we will be able to have more complex software run in our browsers. HTML and Javascript are the fundamental programming languages used to create web sites and web applications today. In this vision, they essentially become some of the most important programming languages in the future.

There is an interesting example currently based on HTML5 called MugTug. If you check out you will see a web app that lets you actually edit photos. All of this is done in the browser and takes advantage of HTML5. MugTug is a great example of a program as powerful as a native application, except that it runs in the browser.

Google has even taken this one step further, announcing recently that their Chrome browser is beta testing support for the C/C++ programming languages. C and C++ are some of the most common programming languages used to create native desktop and OS applications.

In Google’s announcement in their blog they state:

“Native Client allows C and C++ code to be seamlessly executed inside the browser with security restrictions similar to JavaScript. Native Client apps use Pepper, a set of interfaces that provide C and C++ bindings to the capabilities of HTML5. As a result, developers can now leverage their native code libraries and expertise to deliver portable, high performance web apps.”

This is another confirmation that Chrome OS may become a powerful alternate to a native operating system in the future.

Also there is something important with regard to this vision that I don’t see talked about much. Almost every developer we speak to, is simultaneously developing an iOS, Android, and HTML 5 web app at the same time. They believe it is more economical to do all that work up front then maintain over time. This means that at some point in time there will arguably be just as many web apps as native apps in every major app store. We will of course still need some way to discover these web apps, but over time someone will take a leadership stance in this area.

So Where Is Android In This Vision?

Android fits the model of native OS and native apps all needing to be downloaded and installed. Android also is more focused on mobile devices, not traditional PC form factors. However, in this vision I can imagine Chrome phones and Chrome tablets as an alternative to Android phones and Android tablets.

Part of the reason I bring up the longer-term vision for Chrome is because recently Android has come under quite a bit of legal scrutiny. Google is being sued quite heavily over patent violation claims against Android. Many people are watching this very closely because if Google loses these patent lawsuits, Android’s future comes into question. However, in the vision I am laying out, Android may be a shorter-term play for Google, which means even if they lose and Android loses partners, it doesn’t signal the nail in the coffin for Google.

One other point I’ll make on Android is that it’s not going away in the short term—if ever. There’s too much momentum in hardware, software and services that even if additional licensing costs become associated with Android, the vendors will still pay the costs to license Android. My main point is that in this browser-based computing future, Chrome OS presents the longer-term opportunity for Google and their hardware partners.

What interests me about Google’s Chrome browser and its evolution to Chrome OS as its used on things like Chromebooks is how the browser itself was built in a way to take advantage of all of the computer’s hardware. Specifically the browser can take advantage of things that normally only the operating system does, like the GPU and ports like the microphone, media card readers and USB ports.

It is because Chrome is architected this way that I can see it replacing a traditional OS in the future if all of our software moves to the web.

To use a Wayne Gretzky quote and slightly modify it: Android is where the puck is today. Chrome OS is where the puck is going.

Google is leading this effort with devices that take a clamshell notebook design, but in the near future I will not be surprised if we see Chrome devices in a tablet form factor.

Now to be honest, although I believe we are moving in this direction, I am not sure when this vision will become a reality. Many different pieces need to come together, including devices with persistent, reliable and affordable connections to the Internet.

Some times technology moves at the speed of light, and other times it moves very slowly. This is an area where I think it will move slowly, putting us at least five years away and most likely much longer.

Published by

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

188 thoughts on “Chrome OS, Not Android, is Google’s Future”

  1. I’m not sure I agree with the thesis proposed in this article. If I recall, the Chrome OS came out shortly after the first version of Android. Chrome as a browser, I personally have been using it exclusively for 5 years since it first came out, is a far superior experience than IE. I love the built in cloud capabilities of the Chrome browser and the ability to sync the browser across various platforms including my Android smartphone. However, as an OS, Chrome hasn’t really gotten the traction that Android has. Android came out of nowhere 4 years ago and is now the dominant mobile OS, at least on smartphones if not tablets.

    This past summer, Google came out with the Nexus 7 tablet. I purchased one online some 20 minutes after the official announcement and have been extremely pleased with this mini-tablet. Rumor has it that a Nexus 10 is in the offing for holidays. If so, I plan to be among it’s first adopters. If Google is making a substantial investment in Android, I seriously doubt that they are going to abandon it anytime soon regardless of whether or not Apple launches a direct legal assault on Google instead of the proxy legal fights Apple has been launching against the device manufacturers.

    Now, a two-pronged strategy might be in Google’s long-term vision, but I seriously doubt that they will give up Android. I recently went on a trip where I lugged my heavy Dell laptop in a backpack through airports and hotels. I never once used the laptop, but instead preferred my Android smartphone as the primary device for web browsing, checking on email and social networking. Never again will I take my laptop on a trip. For the next trip, I plan to have an Android tablet with me. Preferably a 10 inch Android tablet, if Google comes out with a Nexus 10, otherwise I’ll be getting another Nexus 7 for my personal use. My precocious 10 year old stepdaughter has confiscated my current Nexus 7 tablet. Needless to say, she loves it.

  2. I’m going to take issue with Ben on two points. First, I’m not sure that Chrome really solves the Android legal problems. The litigation and licensing demands around Android have mainly involved touch interface elements. Chrome avoids them by not having a touch interface, but that has to change on a tablet.

    The bigger issue is connectivity. Yes, I want to be connected all the time, but that’s not the reality. And for Chrome purposes, being connected means more than having a bare-minimum connection that allows mail and tweets to trickle in. Having both your software and your content in the cloud requires a very solid and relatively fast connection. It’s not going to work on the slower-that-dialup connections often found in hotels, trains, and airplanes.

    If LTE got cheaper and the coverage got better, or if quality Wi-Fi became more ubiquitous, we’d be in business. But that’s not the state of play today. The Chrome approach will work will work well for those folks who can count on having coverage nearly all the time, such as students. It won’t work for mobile executives who may find themselves needing to do important work in a hotel room that offers neither decent Wi-Fi nor a good, fast WAN conection.

    1. I can understand trains and airplanes having slow connections, because they need to funnel many users through an air link that probably has limited bandwidth. But hotels are wired to the Internet, so they don’t have that excuse.

    2. An example of whatI was talking about: I was just in the United Club at Dulles. Two kinds of Wi-FI, AT&T and Boingo. Couldn’t get either to work. Only way I could get my laptop connected (to use Amtrak’s horribly touch-unfriendly site) was to set up my iPad as a hot spot and connect my MBA to it. But with the Mac, or even the iPad, I can do useful work on lie, though not always everything I’d like to do. A ChromeBook would be a paperweight under the same conditions.

    3. That’s why I’ve never understood the emphasis on the Chrome OS laptop versus desktop. Yes, you’ll never be connected everywhere with a mobile device, but for most of us, if the internet goes down on our desktop it’s time to go out and play!

    4. You are precisely correct on both points. Chrome OS won’t do anything to help the lawsuit problem as soon as it moves to touchscreens, and Android is a better system when you’re offline.

      I currently use a Transformer Prime as my *primary* laptop (I only use Windows for development). It works great all the time, even though I’m only connected about 50% of the time.

      It’s clear to me that very soon, “Chromebooks” will include touchscreens and run all Android apps. My dream — and I have no doubt it’s being worked on — is to have a Surface-like, full-sized Android laptop. No doubt Google will call this a “Chromebook”, but once Android apps are being fully supported, there’s no longer any need for Chrome OS.

  3. Ben, what a terrifying thought. One giant advertising beast in control of everything, our very thoughts included. This is a nightmare I can’t see coming to fruition except in some Orwellian train our species is somehow convinced to board.

    What would be one’s alternative, pencil and paper?

    1. Keep in mine that Microsoft and Apple can take this direction also, so consider the browser as critical element to the platform of the future. If someday browser equals OS, then you can see the platform battles exist as they do today.

      1. Both Apple and MS have a very poor history of creating acceptable Inet products. ITunes is the single most difficult app for consumers ever,and now that they’ve added cloud its even more confusing. And don’t even try to use their cloud file sharing model, where it automatically saves your mistakes and doesn’t back up revisions not to mention you can’t share with others. And all you need say about MS are two letters which describe their pathetic lack of commitment to the Internet: IE.

    2. One giant advertising beast in control of everything, our very thoughts included? (1) How is this entity going to control our thoughts? (2) If you can’t see this nightmare coming to fruition, don’t worry about it.

      1. “How is this entity going to control our thoughts?” Good question, Rich. I’m glad you asked.

        A little abstract but very possible. Today the majority, in western society, accept allopathy over homeopathy, totally, without question, without discussion. Say a second hundred years goes by with as little progress in the road to a cancer cure and say the rate of cancer still continues unabated (1 in 20 circa 1900; 1 in 2~3 today) what then? but I digress.

        The mind shift from homeopathy to allopathy is complete, “our very thoughts included”. The same kind of thought acceptance had power during slavery, and that wasn’t so long ago, and child abuse was accepted or condoned or ignored within most of our memories (abuse in children’s sports is news-recent). Much of what Orwell predicted or speculated on has become real.

        1. Except that Americans tend to be so stubborn. This scenario really only works in an accepting communistic culture, like many in East Asia. Cough-cough North Korea

    3. It isn’t going to control our thoughts. It’s just going to make money off of advertizing by giving us useful, FREE services.

  4. What a dumb title. Android and Chrome OS will both be successful in different markets with different use cases, the former for consumers, the latter for businesses and education.

    But even if one dominates the other, it has been speculated that at some point in the future Google will merge the two operating systems to produce something like Motorola’s innovative Webtop experience (which Google recently killed off). An Android-Chrome OS merge would result in a compelling, continuous client experience, where all your documents, all your files, and all your content are synced to the cloud, easily transferable, easily shared, easily mirrored onto a TV or to a projector, and easily edited across multiple devices with multiple collaborators.

    Imagine taking your powerful pocket computer (your smartphone), and sliding it into a tablet, initiating the Chrome OS experience with a touch sensitive screen and content at your fingertips, all powered by your Android phone. Imagine this phone/tablet hybrid now docking onto a separate keyboard with it’s own battery pack, turning the phone/tablet into a phone/tablet/laptop. Pop in a USB mouse and a USB drive, and you’re off to work. No more carrying around multiple single-use devices would be great! Now imagine further out, where you have a smart glove and smart glasses that allow you to see and interact with Google’s services and content without having to touch a mouse or a screen–Just your fingers on any surface and your voice do the trick.

    Perhaps I’m getting off track here. I just wanted to whet your appetite for Google’s longer term plans. My main point is just that Android is going anywhere, and neither is Chrome OS.

    1. I agree Android is not going anywhere in the short term. As I point out its a matter of which future we believe in. The weight of native vs. web is the debate. I think its incredibly presumptions to assume things about the future. LIke that Android will never go away. If Google has more revenue options somewhere else they will absolutely shift. Money is the deciding factor in everything. Also I see many Android partners trending toward Windows phone because of the desktop and notebook ecosystem. Microsoft has many assets in the computing continuum that are relevant to the future and Google must wrestle with the fact that only mobile trends are in their favor. Which is fine but has some serious strategic holes.

      And as I stated maybe this is 10 years away but I believe we are heading in this server -client direction.

      1. “Money is the deciding factor in everything.”

        While this is true, it’s not true in a straightforward way for a company like Google. Google plans very long term, they make large investments in high quality, often expensive products and services that will bring users and marketshare. The monetization of these products and services comes later, and often much later. Think about maps and YouTube and Google+ and Google Drive. None of these huge data sets started out making money. But they all brought users. Hundreds of millions of users each! YouTube was once thought to be a really stupid purchase. The same has been said of Motorola, but people don’t see the long term benefits. They don’t see the big picture.

        Google wants to own the whole stack. That’s the big picture. They want a vertically integrated, yet open stack of products and services. They want the energy production, they want data servers, they want the IaaS, they want the ISP, they want the mobile carrier, they want the hardware for desktop, laptop, and mobile, they want the operating system for pc and mobile, they want the browser, they want the search engine, they want the media (music, video, books, news, magazines, and games), they want the office and productivity suite, they want the email, they want the education and business applications, they want the online mall, they want the maps, they want the smart car, they want the smart appliances, they want the wearable computing, they want the social network, they want the serendipity, discovery, and personal assistant services, and they especially want the ad platform.

        Google already has most of these nailed down, and is working on most of the ones remaining. They won’t be giving up on any of them anytime soon if they can help it, because this vertically integrated, open stack has network effects of network effects, wherein monetization takes care of itself.

        So, it may sound “presumptions” to you that Android isn’t going anywhere, and perhaps it is arrogant, but my assertion is not based on emotion or hearsay or fanboyism–it’s based on analysis and understanding of what Google is doing and why.

        1. I appreciate the dialogue and I am perfectly happy with the disagreement with this particular analysis. My firm does quite a bit of long term scenario planning for the industry and as I said this is one, I have others as well.

          I have a much more detailed analysis as a deck that I give to industry folk. I’ve given it to every major hardware and silicon OEM, ODM, etc.. and it is fun to have this dialogue at a high level with executives. Some agree, some don’t but it is a great exercise for sharpening thought.

          Our own long term analysis of Google as a company certainly has several outcomes. Last year, I wrote a column on why Google should buy Motorola and in that same month they did. Simply good timing on my part as I had no knowledge of the event but our analysis of Google long term scenario analysis is what led to that column.

          In our presentations to the industry we always preface our 5yr plus presentations with a statement. The key to long term strategic planning is to have a vision for the future then plot your companies role in that vision. Every company needs to wrestle with the degree they believe in the internet as the platform of the future and how they intend to fit in it. ESPECIALLY, those who are vertical, like Apple, and trending vertical like Google and MSFT.

          I recognize that this future, one where the Internet is more important than native platforms, has massive implications for many companies. But I think the thought exercise is worth, it in order to track the trend, but also be able to adjust strategically should more insight come up.

          Google is an advertising company, their business model is fairly straightforward. Any services they create, which Android is, is an extension of their core business model which is advertising.

          Mobile obviously has a role to play and that is what we see with Android. But from a technical standpoint Chromium OS, and Android are already extremely similar. To catch a glimpse of the longer term possibilities of this just take a look at the Mozilla phone, which takes the underlying web architecture, and straps a UI on it, has web apps pinned to the home pages, etc,. Very similar UI to Android all using a baseline browser based web architecture.

          1. Fair enough.

            I think a more productive conversation would be to tease out which types of software lend themselves to native platforms and which types lend themselves to the Internet, taking into account the Internet’s continuing speed increases. Of course, that may be an invalid way of looking at the problem. It may turn out that certain types of users simply prefer or need native platforms, while others prefer or need networked platforms; or it may turn out that the main difference is use case or type of data. Until we figure that out, we are left with software redundancy for both the cloud and pc. It also provides several lines of research for user behavior, attitudes, and preference.

            Is there a point in the future when sending data through the Internet is indistinguishable from sending data through PC circuitry? Perhaps.

            Will Android still exist in that future? Why not? Why wouldn’t Android evolve with the needs of consumers? Why couldn’t Android take on more of what Chrome OS and Mozilla represent?

            What if native systems go away completely? I doubt that will happen, and if it does it is a long time away. Even if local processing and cloud processing become indistinguishable in terms of performance, and even if connectivity becomes reliably fail proof, I think there will still be a role for local processing and native platforms. People and businesses care about privacy, a sense of ownership of their data, and a sense of autonomy or independence from centralized computing.

            Wait, are we talking about tech or politics?…

            (Thanks for the conversation)

          2. HA, nice ending! I took a first pass in our more detailed analysis of this, and obviously things like Twitter, email, FB, etc, work as pure cloud services. FB came out and said HTML 5 is not where its needs to be but I know they will stay dedicated to their web app.

            I referenced MugTug, which I think is a good example of photo editing done in the browser and cloud. But even when we think about virtualized software experiences or cloud software as a service things get interesting as well.

            I like some of the demo’s I have seen with Nvidia’s virtualized cloud GPU. I’ve seem some incredibly complex software run in the browser as if it was native.

            This may all simply be transparent as well. What if Google and Chrome OS merge and become the same thing. Technically they are basically there, javascript is the underlying kernel, on top of linux, but the middle ware is only relevant to access the hardware. That is why I think Chrome is interesting as its a browser based OS that can make calls to all hardware.

            End consumers will never know in my opinion. I think it will be transparent, but the issue will be the value of hardware in this future. That platform, ecosystem, stuff I think is really interesting to think about relative to the long term future.

            But, games can be in the cloud, media and content creation can be in the cloud, etc. But how often to every day folk do those things? Most do very simple stuff and most of it already is cloud dependent.

            I think the cloud connectivity point is key but it is interesting to see the roadmap of the networks and the modem companies like Qualcomm. They heavily believe in a 100% pervasive connective reality and their silicon roadmaps show it. Pretty far off still in my opinion but still a signpost pointing in this direction.

        2. I keep reading about Google’s long-term approach, but I don’t know what it is based on. First, the company is barely 10 years old, so it doesn’t have much of a long-term track record. Second, the evidence suggests it’s strategy is more throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. The company has launched and killed dozens of projects and products. Sometimes it is patient, sometimes it isn’t. In particular, Google cannot have infinite patience with Motorola unless it can slow the bleeding. It’s losing money at a $2 billion annual run rate.

          1. “[Google’s] strategy is more throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.”

            It definitely looks that way to me, too.

  5. I agree. Chrome is Google’s future. It could be a Windows killer (I hope!). All that stands in the way is more pervasive wireless internet access. the U.S. is really behind in this.

      1. Yes. You are correct, but this too will change. We’ve converted our whole division over to Google Apps and enjoy the many advantages they have over Office, not to mention the costs savings..

        1. This is an alternative for organizations that do not do very complex text documents or spreadsheets (especially spreadsheets with extensive programming) and which do not need advanced collaboration tools such as Exchange and SharePoint. Google Apps is not a solution for everyone,

          1. Well, we have built a full invoicing pipeline and a cashflow system using Google products. And we use Docs to create 100+ page proposals. And we wrote our own issue management system in spreadsheets with email notification and automatic feed-in from web page forms using Google’s javascript. I’d say it’s pretty robust. Plus, unlike MS, everything is collaborative.

        2. I know a lot of people harp on it, but OOo/LOo are really good, full functioning replacements for MSO. Sure, it’s not 100% compatible, but my experience is that it is compatible more than enough for most users and organizations.

      2. And games, and actual programs, and ability to do everything else Chrome OS lacks, which is everything but a browser. Now, I actually much prefer Google Docs, but I just can’t get a Chromebook. Maybe if it had program support, like Android(ish), but really.

    1. Dude, Chrome is basically the same thing as Chrome Web Browser. It’s not going to do anything if you can’t have REAL programs, like video editing, REAL games, like Battlefield, of GTA, neither of which the CURRENT, yes only CURRENT OS has to offer. Maybe in the future, but not like this.

  6. I’m going to disagree with Ben on this one.

    Ben is almost certainly right that the web and web apps are the future. But that future is not here yet. In fact, Apps appear to be on the rise and usurping the roll formerly played by browser search bars.

    It’s dangerous to fall behind the times and miss the trends. But it’s just as dangerous for a company to bet on a trend that won’t mature for years to come. The first is like being left at the station while the train pulls out. The second is like standing on the tracks while the train pulls in.

    1. I am happy with the disagreement actually. Given that this is an extremely far out thought process, I am excited about the conversations ranging on this subject. I’m hoping many people chime in and discuss this.

      But in our presentations to the industry we always preface our 5yr plus presentations with a statement. The key to long term strategic planning is to have a vision for the future then plot your companies role in that vision. Every company needs to wrestle with the degree they believe in the internet as the platform of the future and how they intend to fit in it. ESPECIALLY, those who are vertical, like Apple, and trending vertical like Google and MSFT.

      1. I don’t think it’s that far out. We just converted to remote desktop at my job, and when I considered my home computer, I realized that I’ve barely done anything that didn’t involve the internet on it in years. So I bought a Chromebox. The biggest thing is that I can remote into my work desktop through an HTML5-based service. As long as that works, I have everything that I would ever possibly need in terms of desktop computing. I’m not worried at all about what to do with it if the internet goes down. My power has gone out more frequently in the past couple of years than my Internet. I’m more worried about my hard drive crashing or someone stealing my computer, and all of my precious files are up in smoke. Forget that, if I have to back it up to the cloud anyways, I might as well just compute from there. There are so many great app’s and extensions in the Chrome Web Store already, my Chromebox already does lots of stuff that my MacBook never did because I couldn’t be bothered to buy and load extra software. It should just bet better as it gets more popular. The future is here for me, and it’s fine.

    2. Most apps are just bookmarks to websites. The only real programs used by people now are converters, photo/video editors, torrent/FTP clients, and compilers. For the average person who’s mostly a consumer nothing else is needed except a browser that does the usual and that they can also play their little games in.

      My question is why didn’t Google just use a tweaked version of Android for their devices? The Chrome browser on Android would do the same things as Chrome OS, wouldn’t it?

      1. “Most apps are just bookmarks to websites.” – Sim Lash

        Not at all. In fact, many people prefer the App version to the web version of the website. Apps matter and they matter a lot.

          1. That doesn’t solve the fact that the platform just isn’t viable for actual programs. No matter what, the way they have it, those apps on Chrome Store will never work.

    1. This is what I thought at first, but you really have it backwards. I’ve been using Android since the G1, and now with my experience with a Chromebook, it is more progressive than Android.

  7. The next big step for Google is to increase interoperability between ChromeOS and Android, so that you can access your Android Device from your Chromebook/chromebox and viceversa. The idea is that while using your Chromebook you can open a window, kind of a Virtual Network window into your Android Device and remotely run and interact with your Android Apps from your CHromebook device. Both devices should work as one in an intuitive manner.

    1. Yes! I’m shocked that Google has not leveraged their two systems in this way. One example that I’ve been using a lot is a Chrome browser texting program. I can send and receive texts on my computer screen, using my keyboard, and it’s immediately sync’d back and forth with my phone. It’s perfect, but I’d like to ultimately do the same thing with other functions on my phone, like voice, music, photos, etc. I should really just have one digital experience, voice, data, text, music, photos, etc., and just access it through various devices: a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop and/or even an HDTV, and anywhere else I happen to log-in from.

      1. I absolutely hate replying to an 8 month old comment. But mind telling what the name of the app / google service is? Is it the built in one found in gmail? I’ve been trying to look for similar alternatives…

        1. Lucky for you, I’m subscribed to comments, so I guess you could reply five years later, and I’d still immediately get it! The program I use is Mighty Text. It’s still working great!

  8. How fast of a network connection would be required? Not everyone is blessed with 10+ Mbps internet (I am stuck at 1.5 down and 0.75 up) and I would hate to have to rely on that for building displays on my laptop, especially in HTML. If I were to rely on a cellular connection (3G or better), I have both bandwidth issues (3G is terrible in my area) and data caps to deal with.

    I would hope that Android stays the future, since it gives me an offline capability.

  9. Hi there,

    First, sorry about my rough english. I’m from south america, so…

    About the topic: I really think Google has been making a revolutionary idea since 2009. The idea behind the cloud it’s great, but to picture an entire OS in the cloud it’s simply geniuos.

    There’s one reason, though, why I’ll stick to my old PC for a while (hopefully in a few years this “thing” won’t be an issue), and the reason is Microsoft Office, specifically Microsoft Excel.

    To be fair I haven’t given a great chance to Google Docs, but I did try to use LibreOffice and OpenOffice (Linux), and I also tried to use Office 360 (or something like that, the service that offers the new Outlook account).

    Anyway, I haven’t seen a worthy competitor to Excel, and until then I’m forced to stay with the old MS and the problems it carries everywhere.

    If any of you knew about a close substitute for Excel, PLEASE let me now. It’s the only thing that keeps me from moving on into the future.

    1. You’re right: There is no alternative to Excel for anything but very simple spreadsheets. (There’s also no real alternative to Word for long, complicated document creation.)

      But one bit of correction: Office 360 as it currently exists (in beta) in really full Microsoft Office in a subscription package. You are probably thinking of its several online predecessors, such as Live Office.

      1. Steve, thanks for the correction. To be honest, I wouldn’t know. I’m an average user 🙂
        Great article by the way!

  10. Completely disagree with this idea. I don’t envision chrome ever becoming popular. It has no value added, you MUST do everything in the web, any other OS allows you to do that, plus other things. Forcing you to be on the web is an unnecesary restrictition, a frame that reduces the posibiñities. The fact that you can replicate almost evrything on a web aplication doesnt mean evryone must do it by force. Its a shame that google went this way, had they offered a full operating system they might have endes up taking over from windows, but with this piece of junk.. No way.

    1. You’re not getting that its a paradigm shift. It’s not that it’s forcing you – it’s that the paradigm is different and has several advantages that are supposed to entice you to it – such as not having to install and maintain and software, troubleshoot crashes, do updates, etc (just to name a few), – and disadvantages. It’s the age-old argument of centralized vs decentralized computing.

    2. Missing the point! Chrome does what it does at an extremely low price. All the price is just hardware! Early Chromebooks were expensive and customers shunned them. Your argument was valid then.

      The most recent Chromebooks (top sellers on Amazon) are very good machines at very low cost. This is what people are looking for, low cost PCs and low cost tablets (except Apple).

      Even Apple has realized this and brought out Ipad Mini when Stev Jobs had derided the 7 inch form factor! As the Oracle said in Matrix, the problem for Microsoft is choice! People have more choice today.

  11. Chromebooks are popular currently (top sellers) on Amazon because of low price for high quality hardware. This is what people want.

    With Windows 8, Microsoft has gone in the other direction. Putting touch on Laptop screens has increased the price of laptops and made Windows 8 machines too expensive.

    If Microsoft and OEM partners realize their folly and make amends, they will immediately kill the Chromebook. Otherwise, Chrome and Android will slowly take over Windows territory in consumer and small business space.

    Microsoft should realize that people have low cost alternatives because of Google. MS can no longer make obscene profit on Windows and pretty soon, Office will be under pressure too!

  12. Chrome has performance issues on my PC so It still needs a lot of work if they think it will be killing windows or Firefox

  13. You really need actual programs for a platform to actually work. At least half of the time, I don’t even use the internet. I’m gaming, vid/pic editing, quick notes, listening to music, shredding Galaga, etc. Plus, the thing about Chrome OS is that most of the stuff is just webpages. Half of the stuff works if you copy and paste the address into Firefox. And that’s not the platform of the future. You need programs (like apps on Android), even if those programs are communicating over the web. Internet sites are just never going to do what we need. Now, if Chrome OS begins to support REAL programs (which, trust me, Chrome apps do not qualify), THEN were talkin.’ However, until then, it’s just not practical. Google is obviously the future, but their OS isn’t.

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