In order to promote its new Chromium-based operating system, Google Chrome has launched a new Google Chrome Web Store. The Google Chrome Web Store, which has been likened to the iTunes App Store for iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads, is a repository of trusted apps, extensions and themes that can be installed directly into Google Chrome or Chrome OS. The premise of the Google Chrome Web Store is that more and more users are eschewing traditional local based applications—such as Microsoft Office, iTunes and Windows Explorer—for cloud-based services, such as Google Docs, Gmail, Rhapsody and Picasa. Google argues that, because the bulk of the computing experience occurs online, computers should be streamlined for accessing these web-based services.
This concept is embodied in Google’s own Google Notebook, an unbranded laptop that runs Google Chrome OS. Google Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system based on Linux and fundamentally similar to the Google Chrome web browser. The Google Notebook limited user access to local resources, such as hard disks and the local file structure, and instead encourages the user to perform all necessary operations online. Because the Chrome Notebook relies heavily on Internet access, each Chrome Notebook comes with 3G connectivity, allowing it to access the same data networks as smartphones.
For many analysts, the Google Notebook powered by Chrome OS is seen as a logical evolution from netbooks, the slim laptops designed for light web browsing, blogging and other tasks that are not particularly hardware intensive. Google Notebook computers emphasize quick boot times that are made possible by sidestepping the need for resource heavy operating systems, such as Mac OS, Windows and Ubuntu. For those who have received the Google Notebooks for testing purposes, reviews have been mixed. Many complain about the lack of compatibility, as the selection of web apps is limited for the time being. However, the potential of Google Notebooks is strong. For those who have already adapted to a cloud-based computing experience, the transition is smoother. But for those who still rely on programs for which there are no web app equivalents, the Google Chrome OS experience is reportedly lacking. Some compare the Google Notebook more to a tablet experience, such as with an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, rather than a full computing experience.
Overall, Google’s latest foray into mobile computing furthers its cause that seeks to blur the lines between electronic platforms. As the creator of Google TV, the Android operating system for tablets and smartphones and now, Google Chrome OS, Google appears poised to be the Microsoft of the cloud.