Prediction: Paul Buchheit Will Be Proven Wrong, Chrome OS Will Survive On Its Own

Earlier this week, former Google employee and founder of Gmail, tweeted out that Chrome OS will die one year from now and be merged with Android, probably hinting at the way Google Wave for killed, one year after launching.

I don't think that will happen, because it doesn't make as much sense to merge Android with Chrome OS as people think. Merging Android with Chrome OS is like Windows 7 merging with Windows Embeded 7, or with WP7 - or Mac OS with iOS. It doesn't matter they share the same core - so do Chrome OS and Android. They are both on Linux, but that doesn't really mean anything. They serve different purposes and different markets, and they need different UI's.

Let's start with the UI. Android has been tried before on laptop form factors, and it didn't work. You can't shoehorn a touch interface onto a laptop, no more than you can shoehorn mouse-driven OS on to a tablet.

Now for purposes - Android's purpose is to populate devices like smartphones and tablets so it will focus on catering to those needs. Android is for people who want touchscreen phones, or tablets. Chrome OS on the other hand, will focus on the laptop form factor for now, so it's more for people who are not yet ready to move to a tablet. The tablet market is still at the very beginning. It will be a decade before everyone moves to a tablet. If they mix all the needs of a mouse driven OS with the needs of a touchscreen OS, I think Android will become bloated a lot earlier than it should.

As for markets, Android is definitely more consumer oriented than enterprise oriented for now, and I see Chrome OS kind of at the other end of the spectrum, more towards the enterprise market. I think Chrome OS will be gold for enterprises who are moving to the cloud, and want something that just works, it's cheap, and it's easy to maintain by the IT department. Cost savings would be huge - 1 or 2 orders of magnituge in savings. I think Google should try to promote Chrome OS as hard as they can to the enterprise, together with their Google Apps, because it should be a pretty easy sell.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean it won't succeed in the consumer market, but I don't think Google should waste a lot of energy and money promoting it to consumers and positioning it to consumers. There will be plenty of choices next year in Chrome OS laptops, so if consumers want it, they will get it. The consumer market should grow more or less organically. Only the people who are ready for Chrome OS should move to using it. It shouldn't become overhyped, and then when some people get it, they'll be surprised that they can't install native apps.

So it seems to me that Android and Chrome OS will be moving in pretty different directions for now. Will they ever merge? Who knows. If they become too separated from each other, they might not. On the other hand if ALL computing, even in enterprises will move to tablets, then that will probably be the time when they merge. But that could easily take 10-15 years, especially when it comes to enterprise. Until then Android and Chrome OS will have much more appeal from the customers each are intended for, at the moment, by being developed on their own, than being mixed together.

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