Google Chrome and the Art of the Self Serving Blog

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Some of the best material around regarding technology trends is to be found in online blogs and the like. Of course, I would say this ! Nevertheless, it pays to know the underlying motives of the site and/or author before lending too much credence to their opinions.

Take TechRepublic. A long-standing favourite of mine but a site which I take great care over reading. Advertising accounts for much of their revenue I assume – much the same as Babble Talk – but it is obvious that most copy is really drafted at the behest of – or possibly directly by – the manufacturers, application developers and service providers it pretends to review.

Their “Editor in Chief”, Jason Hiner, recently wrote an article on Google Chrome – the possible new operating system from the boys at Google. This is a significant development to me as I have long written about the potential, albeit long-term, demise of Microsoft dominance at the desktop. Chrome is important to that story in that it represents a potential rival to Windows and Mac OS X. Hiner makes some good points in dismissing its importance but reveals his bias – either through ignorance or plain payment – by writing a flawed article.

He makes one essentially strong point: that Google are confused and lacking in credibility when it comes to delivering an OS. Chrome is a contradictory solution to, say, Android, which Google released at the end of last year for Mobile Phones. Certainly true to say that Google could do more to make a sensible entrance here. I for one would welcome a decent competitive OS.

Hiner slips more when he takes a pop at Linux – pointing out that it has been lauded annually as the “… year of Linux on the Desktop…”. Of course he is right. But to dismiss the Linux kernel as irrelevant and its dependence on manufacturers to write device drivers is kind of missing the point. Mac OS X is essentially a Linux core with a fantastic set of shell / wraparound software. Security and reliability make Linux shine against the increasingly bloated Windows family. It will never be a big bang but even he cannot deny the rot has set in and the slide to non-Microsoft products is inevitable. The Seattle crew obviously think the market is on their side but I would contend that this cannot last forever. The drift away from Microsoft is tangible, proved and inexorable.

So I can generally agree that Chrome is a folly in its present form; Designed for Netbooks, which he says are largely discredited (who by ? – I just got my Samsung N110 and I love it !). Hiner says that Windows 7 will eclipse everything else – some chance given its resource needs, complicated and confusing packaging, and its price. Still, I am sure the cheque from Redmond is on its way, Jason.

But I do hope Google take note. They are innovative and love to play and release almost random ideas to see if they float. Cool and all that, but I sincerely hope they can use their considerable resources to consider the release of a genuinely new desktop alternative. Forget making it completely cloud-based – local storage will ALWAYS be needed – and give it more local intelligence than just browser capability. Instead, consider making it a user-orientated GUI ‘a la’ OS X and stop trying to eclipse the already discredited interface from Microsoft. I get the cloud model – and the whole browser based thin clint-type option, sure. I just feel that the users deserve something better and often need to work offline instead of being in the pocket of overpriced 3G providers. Microsoft just don’t see it. Windows will continue getting bigger and hungrier with the occasional backward step as they try and hook in the user to some proprietary technology (Silverlight, anyone ?).

TechRepublic remains an interesting source, if only to see what is scaring the likes of Microsoft in the market today. I just hope that the folks at Google, Apple and within the open-source community can read between the lines.

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4 Comments

Jason HinerJuly 14th, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Here’s the problem with your argument: Both Microsoft and Google are advertisers on TechRepublic (along with HP, Dell, Intel, RIM, and all of the other big tech companies).

You’ve also obviously not read any of these articles:

Open letter to Microsoft: It’s time for a single version of Windows 7
http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=1755

Sanity check: Five reasons why Windows Vista failed
http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=849

The two tides that are turning against Microsoft
http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=1524

Smartphone shakeout: Android and Windows Mobile could get squeezed
http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=1238

SimonJuly 15th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Fair comment, Jason, and delighted to stand corrected on the suggestion of bias. I will review the articles listed and post a more fuller response on further reading. Thanks for the follow-up – it is much appreciated.

Dirk88August 27th, 2011 at 2:59 am

Jason Hiner is a shill, but these days he is shilling for Google…

The thing that cracks me up us, after Steve Job’s resignation, he writes this hella biased article, making the point that Apple doesn’t care about what customers want, and they fool people into buying things the don’t need… Said like a true Google shill.

If you look at the history of Apple, democratic design is at its core (pardon the pun). The Mac, iPod, iPad and iPhone were all designed based both on market research (for features) and principles of design (for ease of use, unobtrusiveness, and elegance). Android is an ugly, ersatz iPhone rip off.

But Hiner shills for Google and the Droid now. After all, Apple has found success from giving the customer what they want — security, video chat, media, games, ease of use, long battery life, excellent form factor… I could go on and on. I used to work at Intuit, and they too share this obsession with market research driven product development…

Jason Hiner has an unimpressive background. He is the quintessential IT guy, having never worked on consumer products. He cut his teeth managing IT infrastructure for health care… So for him to say Apple does not listen to the customer, is ridiculous.

I was thinking of posting thus on Tech Republic, but that’s what they want. TR is biased tech pinditry, designed to piss off one camp and delight another, all so people will view ads while posting their comments.

Phuck TR. I am deleting my account. I have never read anything as ridiculous in my life as his rundown on how Steve Job’s resignation will change Apple. Um, the dude has been on medical leave for a year or so already… I would worry more if Jon Ives, Scott Forestall, or Bob Mansfield left the company… Job’s departure has been expected for some time. Even the market had a better reaction than Jason Hiner.

SimonAugust 27th, 2011 at 3:21 am

Wow Dirk – a helluva reaction. I will check out the article. I have criticised Hiner (well, TR generally) in the past and he has been quick to respond to we will see if he comes back on this one. Personally, I agree with the underlying point – that Apple will go from strength to strength. It is no longer a Steve-Jobs-personality cult. As for their customer service, I can say with real world examples (disk problems on my iMac, battery issues on my Macbook, a dodgy download on iTunes) that these guys CARE about customers. Yes, I am a fan but I can still be objective when it comes to service. Apple charge a premium for their products compared to, say, Wintel computers. I always bitch about this BUT I can accept it as an acceptable premium to pay for excellent quality (build), usability (just great design) and first rate customer service.

As for Hiner shilling for Google (I think I had accused him of shilling for Microsoft in my original article), I will have another look. Surely it is not a world that is strictly “Google versus Apple” is it ? Technology today is far from the two-horse race that IT pundits suggest. Maybe wishful thinking on my part ?

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