Google Chrome and the Art of the Self Serving Blog
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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