Google's pivot - Chromebook - Teckeela

Mar 25, 2014

Google's pivot - Chromebook

It's not uncommon to read online reviews which say, "Company X must be having something in mind..."; "Company Y has the bigger picture..."; "In the long run...", and whenever I read something like this, I thought "Yeah sure, they know what they're talking about, they've seen the trend and they must be right".

Something of similar sorts has been happening to me lately. If it isn't fairly obvious then I would like to say that one company, which I feel has been taking the right steps towards it's larger picture is Google. Ok, I think that was obvious. However, if you're thinking Android, I am not. I'm thinking Chrome OS and Google Drive. Ahaa! That is not what you thought and also you've probably lost interest in this article.

Nevertheless, I plan on making my point. Let me start with Chrome OS and then link it with Drive(you'll see how).

The Chromebook

The first signs that Google has something cooking with Chrome was when it launched the Chromebook in mid-2011. 

Even before that when the announcement was made, I was actually thinking, "ah!, I think Google can bring out a stable Linux OS". Yes, Linux; that's what I thought Google was up to and I was on my sofa screaming, "Microsoft, Apple, your days are numbered". Ok, no I wasn't. But I was absolutely convinced that the OS would  compete with MS and Apple. But then, when I realised  that it was going to be a browser based, I thought to myself, what is the point? More Chrome users? Pfff, silly strategy then. But the Chromebook reviews were pretty amazing, people actually liked the idea that a small notebook is what they need if all they're going to do is some word..err..document processing and mostly Facebooking. Besides being inexpensive and stylish, Google offered free* Drive, so that was cool.

Why not just do it with Android?

Well, Google had it's success with Android already, and they were happily using all of Google's products: Maps, Drive, GMail, Docs. But Google had a large chunk of users of the Chrome browser, sitting in front of their PCs or Macs, just staring at the shiny browser with awe...and using it...sometimes.

Also, these users not just used the browser, but also many of the thousands of Chrome add-ons and extension. Google was very successful in getting the developers to build them. It was nothing less than a hit, something - I feel - that Mozilla had the chance for, but only faintly leveraged.  Soon these extensions and add-ons became synonyms to productivity. Experience talking.

Around this time, the adoption of Drive was also growing. Google now had to just get the Chrome fans to use Drive more like a natural choice.

Drive Apps

A wide range of apps that integrate with Google Drive. The apps worked around Drive for storage purposes and also supercharged your Google Drive itself.

And take my word that these apps don't feel like they're lacking in any sense. They're efficient in what they do, fast like your native Windows or Mac applications, if not better.

The Final Step(s)

So, Google had most of the steps in place. All they had to do is introduce the Chrome OS. How do they do it? Version 32 of the Chrome browser transformed your Chrome to more Chrome OS style...all while you stayed within your Windows or Mac. This also allowed a new breed of Chrome apps, that felt more native rather than a browser app. Few of which ran offline. Sounds familiar? Yup, if not the OS itself, Google was now in a position to challenge Windows 8 apps.

All Google now needs to do is push developers to build high quality apps and more users to be using Drive. Proof for that is the Google Apps referral program and the drop in price for Drive and also the fact that some of the Android flagship phones now offer free Drive space. 65GB with the new HTC One M8 (oh, that beauty!)

Also, there is enough evidence that Chrome OS could land up on your next tablet. Honestly, I feel it could have more success than Android on tablets. If all of this goes right, we could soon be Chromebook converts. I am sure MS or Apple hadn't seen this coming.

Update - 2018: Over the years, Google has had great success with  Chromebooks - even with it's own flagship ones. The Pixelbook is no budget Chromebook by any means, but that does not mean it cannot compete with the Macbooks and the XPSs - especially when it has all your favourite apps from the Play Store. All this gets even more interesting with Google playing with it's latest operating system Fuchsia. I did a whole post on why Google may place it's bet on the new OS. Exciting times.

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