I usually steer clear of a point by point repudiation of another writer’s work, but reader Handsomematt asked me to, and there is little I won’t do to satisfy the desires of our readers (are you reading this, Scarlet?)
It all started with my piece about how Chrome is an operating system for cloud computing, and why Apple isn’t scared at all. Handsomematt (hereafter: ‘Mat’), forwarded me an article indicating that apparently I was completely full of it. What’s more, what I thought was a piece of insightful analysis disappointedly turns out to be conventional wisdom.
Nevertheless Matt, here you go, Writing on the Wall, or Premature “Googasm“, follow us after the break, and you decide.
Ted Dzluba of The Register, writes:
“Every time the media fires off its gravy so violently, it highlights how little some of the supposed “experts” actually know about computers. Case in point: People saying that Google Chrome is an operating system designed to compete head-to-head with Microsoft Windows.”
Now that’s just funny right there. I’m a big fan of funny. Ted Dzluba is going on my RSS feed. ‘fires off its gravy‘… priceless –but I digress.
The assertion that because two things don’t perform exactly the same functions they can’t compete is totally wrong, and illustrates how little Ted knows about technology. It would be like saying in October 2001: “The iPod and the Walkman don’t compete head to head because iPod can’t play compact discs.”
Ted continues with: “Users aren’t going to decide which computer to buy based on which browser comes pre-installed“. Which to give Ted credit, is absolutely true, and well reasoned.
Consumers aren’t going to be buying “computers” anymore. I mean some people will of course: developers, enthusiasts, me. Your average consumer, however, is going to be buying a whole host of products that have “computers” integrated into them, but aren’t general purpose computing platforms. These are, I assert, the last days of the “Personal Computer”.
This is not that far off or difficult to imagine. We’re already a lot of the way there. From my Ford F150, to my XBox, to my Blackberry, all of these are connected to the Internet, all of them participate in a computing ecosystem that tries like the dickens to make my life better. In the very near future, there will be a refrigerator, where you scan products before you put them into specially placed positions inside. This fridge will then email you (only when you’re already at the store) when you’re low on Milk or Eggs. I have seen this, it’s for real.
But what of the computer, and more apropos, the Operating System?
Well we need to dissect the question into 2 parts:
1) What is an Operating System, Actually.
OS’s historically have provided 3 basic Services: Process / Thread Management, Memory Management, Disc / IO Management.
Chrome does 2 of the 3 of those. This is NOT to suggest that Chrome won’t need some underlying OS to run on. OF COURSE it will. That said, I argue that Operating System will be more like an advanced BIOS or EFI than it will be MS Windows or OS X.
2) What is an OS from a Consumer’s Perspective:
Users see the OS as being the windowing system, and the applications running on it, and Chrome does all of that. Chrome on top of a File management system like MS-DOS (or more exactly, a highly scaled down, ultra secure Linux) IS an OS for cloud computing that could run on $200 hardware, and satisfy the needs of most consumers.
The “Enterprise Perspective”
You could argue that CoM is an Apple site, and ours is a very “Consumer” centric point of view. It is, and Ted does, alluding to the necessity of a “proper operating system” to run Chrome and other business applications. The allusion he makes is to all the zillions of applications out there that IT Administrators must continue to support to run their businesses.
These will not forestal the death of the PC. Just because IT’s been writing garbage for the past quarter century doesn’t mean CIO’s are going to let them continue.
Case in point: Most of the the core business processes of the Global 1000 are automated by SAP or ORACLE / PeopleSoft. These are the applications that actually Drive the business, they cost millions of dollars to own, configure and operate, and none of them require more than a Web Browser to access.
Sure, Cheryl from Marketing’s Access Database she uses for campaign management will still need a traditional PC to access, but seriously, how long before her CIO introduces her to Salesforce.com?
I could be wrong, but I don’ think so
Now I’ve been wrong before, spectacularly wrong. I once opined in print that the Internet was little more than CB-Radio for geeks. In all fairness though, the Net at that time was little more than Usenet and IRC, and I had been watching a rerun of “Convoy”. That said, we’re on the side of the Angels here with this Chrome thing. No less a writer than Nick Carr, former Harvard Business Review Editor, and author of “The Big Switch“, opined something similar in a recent article.
I guess what I’m saying is that dudes with you know… uh… actual credentials… agree.
But how about you? Chrome: Overhyped “Googasm” (I’m keeping that word, thanks Ted), or portent for the future?