Chrome Books Are Not for You

Chatting with Rich (@rmanalan) who got a Cr-48 last week, we meandered off onto Paul Buchheit’s commentary on Twitter and FriendFeed about Android vs. Chrome OS.

ChromeOS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display).

This is a pretty common observation and an area of confusion for many, especially developers who are trying to understand where and how to target their work.

Therein lies the rub, and here comes the conjecture.

Chrome OS (and Chrome books) aren’t targeted at developers, or early adopters with multiple devices and money to burn, relatively speaking. They’re not for you or me.

To succeed, Chrome books need to be cheap, like no more than $150, including the limited 3G option, and it needs to be truly disposable.

At that price point, Google can address the very large head of the gadget market, i.e. not you or me or anyone in the long tail. Google’s clout should also open the door for international carrier and retail agreements, putting Chrome books into the hands of people around the world.

This is the true OLPC, and don’t be surprised if Google plays that card as evidence of their not being evil.

And just in time too, as the mobile web expands with increased demand.

The disposable computer (or internet device) is another hugely important piece of the strategy.

Android devices are decidedly not disposable, even the cheap ones; Chrome OS is tailor-made for multiple users, and at a low price point, a Chrome book could be lost or dumped without too much regret.

The latter point hooks users too, e.g. if your Chrome book dies, you’ll buy a new one because all your data live on Google’s servers.

Google will not make any money on Chrome books, but as with Android, they will rake in the advertising dough (making them more of an advertising company?) by putting new eyeballs in front of screens around the globe.

Rich’s commentary about his Cr-48 (where’s mine Google?) lines up nicely with what I’ve heard, mainly that its hardware is slow. Not much of a surprise, considering in there. Rich reports that video is slow, but that must be something Google can solve at a reasonable price because the Google TV also sports an Intel Atom processor, and YouTube is a must-have for Chrome books.

Anyway, while I wait with baited breath for my very own Cr-48, it’s fun to ponder the whats and whys of Chrome OS vs. Android.

I’m sure you have well-formed opinions to share in the comments.




  1. The ‘trick’ will be be data costs, here at least. There’s no point in selling a mobile device for $200 if you’ll be spending $50 a month on download fees for video. In Aus, a mobile broadband deal costs about $20 a month for 1Gb of data. I doubt the network costs here and now will make it viable except as a ‘add-on’ to a home internet setup.

  2. You’re absolutely right. No cheap network, no Chrome book, but I think Google will find a way to work with international carriers to get this done. I don’t think an add-on to a home network really fits the sweet spot for Chrome book, frankly. It’s just not enough; I see the target as being schools, shelters, public terminals, etc.

  3. i just got a chrome book and i love it… it is making things so much easer one this os is not slow it is fast. just like google chrome for mac/pc/linux it loads 7 times faster then safari and fire fox, and at lest 20 times faster then internet E. it has a fast power on where it only takes 7 sec to load the program. where an iphone or ipod may take up to 10 to 15 to start. and i use google Docs. and google Cal. and much more. google is doing great with there testing of the CBooks and thats what i have to say…

  4. I can definitely see the two going together like peanut butter and chocolate. Google has some pretty strong state and local relationships, so why not deploy a fleet of Cr-48s or similar? Good for tourism, good for easy/cheap access in libraries, at shelters, etc.

    Good tie-in, thanks for that.

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