Google Chromebook: Beyond the hype
May 13, 2011 1 Comment
The Chromebook is hogging a bit of limelight in the technology world but is this all a fad?
This product is innovative but not the Windows killer. Is this a consumer product or an enterprise product? The level of internet penetration is abysmal in countries where a device like the OLPC made headway, making the mythological “always on” connectivity to the internet virtually non-existent, thereby making the device absolutely impossible to use in such terrains. In geographies where we do have the “always on” connectivity to the internet, are we ready to let go of our data and store them all in the “cloud? I think the answer is a categorical “No”. Penetrating the enterprise market will be so challenging and price point is not reflective of a cheap product. Although, the product is also available at a monthly rental cost, the lack of offline capabilities for the currently supported applications will render the device useless when disconnected from the internet. What would happen if you had to travel to locales with patchy internet connection? Obviously, you still need your laptop or the now forgotten netbooks.
Enterprises are Windows centric, and so are the applications. Most enterprise applications have been designed to run on Windows platform and having a “good product” only is not sufficient to attract the masses to this product. Remember the “Betamax” and “VHS” battle of old. And in recent times, remember Apple and the App Store, against the rest. People and enterprises require computers, laptops etc. because of the applications, not the other way round.
Data theft, immaturity of the cloud (remember the recent outage in Amazon EC2 and previous outages of the Gmail / Google Apps service), identity theft, SLAs, service availability etc. are concerns Google needs to address.
How I wish there could be a server component perhaps branded as “Google Server” for enterprises that may be interested in having a “Private Cloud” or “Hybrid Cloud” which will be a replica of Google Apps, but locally hosted. At least that will take away the concern around information security. There is the plan to have a Citrix Receiver for the Chrome which will allow you to stream Windows applications from the data centre to the device. Yes, it is a VDI type scenario. You may be asking the question, why not just get a dumb terminal to access the resources in my data centre, at a cheaper price or repurpose an end of life device as a thin client.
Finally, where does this leave the Android OS? There are too many unanswered questions. Goggle has perhaps bitten too much.