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Will Chrome be the death of Android as a netbook?

November 19, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka


Will Chrome be the death of Android as a netbook?

These days, a Google product announcement is cause to send the entire tech world into a frenzy wondering how it will affect specific industries and product lines. Today’s announcement of the Google Chrome Operation System is no different. I’m still trying to wrap my ahead around the Chrome OS concept, but one thing is for sure: sink or swim, Chrome OS will have some type of effect on Android adoption for netbooks.

Chrome is Google’s Internet-based — scratch that, Internet-dependent OS that relies completely on web apps and cloud services. There’s no hard drive to store your favorite photos and MP3′s, nor is there a place to install Photoshop and iTunes to edit or play them. People will be able to use flash drives, but Google suggests “90%” of time spent on a computer is browser-based, so why not just make users store their photos in Picasa and play their music in Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, or imeem?

The hook for Chrome, which is designed specifically for netbook use, is that it’s super-fast and super-light. That speed, along with the always-present push that comes from being a Google product, is sure to grab quite a bit of attention and support. How much of that support might have gone to Android?

Since Android first entered consumer hands with the T-Mobile G1 last October, people have wondered if it would be a platform for Mobile Internet Devices and netbooks. Then came the months-long parade of companies saying they were considering their options, personal modders hacking their computers to run Android, and finally an official netbook from Acer (D250) that dual-boots Android and Windows XP. It was a case of thought-to-product in less than a year.

Chrome is a year off from being released and still in development, but I have to venture that companies who will display interest in this may have also considered optimizing Android for use in its netbook. We’ve seen companies use Android to spruce up their MID’s, tablets, and personal media players, but netbook use will be less-likely if Google can offer those products a faster, web-based operating system.

Android-powered netbooks were once considered a very small but troublesome threat to Microsoft Windows’ market share. Ironically, Chrome could prove to be a threat to Android getting off the ground as a viable netbook operating system.