Will Google Chrome OS affect laptop sales?

by PYB James | Jan 01, 2011

If you know the answer to that question, then people such as Microsoft, Google and many in the laptop insurance marketplace would just love to hear from you!

If you are old enough to remember the 1970s and early 1980s (from a technology viewpoint) you may remember the huge debate at the time about the need to take computer applications off of big centralised server mainframes and put the software power on to the desktop. The ‘centralisation is dead' brigade, led by people such as Microsoft and Apple, won the day and we moved into the ‘store it and use it locally’ epoch.

Now, apparently without any sense of irony, people have suddenly decided that Cloud computing is the only way to do things and, surprise, surprise, everybody now is saying that it is self-evidently right for many applications and data sources to exist in a non-local location i.e. the internet Cloud.

Much as many old-timers in IT will smile at this about-face, it is progressing rapidly and Google’s Chrome operating system is part of this move. It effectively utilises many central Cloud applications that are not stored on the laptop itself.

One of the many theoretical effects of this is that it may be possible to produce laptops that are a little more streamlined in terms of their required processing capabilities.

Some are predicting that this may lead to increased sales of laptops, though others are equally confident in predicting that tablets will lead to the demise of the laptop irrespective of anything Google do with Chrome.

The situation is extremely difficult to interpret. At the very end of 2010, Google shipped a number of basic laptops and a beta version of Chrome.  Reviews are underway and initial reports appear to be mixed. One immediate and pretty fundamental problem is that if your operating system expects all of its application components (or many of them) to be available on the internet, it may get a rather nasty surprise if you are somewhere where the internet is not available!

There have also been some negative comments relating to incompatibilities between Chrome and certain Cloud-based applications. However, the reality may prove to be driven by commercial objectives rather than philosophical discussions around Cloud computing. The fact is that Google are proving to be an increasingly ambitious and aggressive player in the ‘total IT’ marketplace.

It seems clear that they are determined to challenge Microsoft's virtual monopoly of much of the home Operating System environment and in directing traffic to centralised Cloud services they will, of course, also been looking to capture substantial additional business for their own Cloud based applications.

Whether you are an expert observer of the IT or laptop insurance business, it would be a brave person that would predict the result of this being anything other than an increase in Cloud computing, a relative reduction in laptop prices and a consequential increase in laptop sales.

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