Google sort of released ChromeOS yesterday. I say “sort of” because they released the source code, but the official release of the OS is supposed to be in a year. Even the Chrome Blog hedged a bit, “Today we released Chromium OS, the open source project behind Google Chrome OS.” So, they released the open source project Chromium OS. As has been stated from the beginning, ChromeOS will be focused on Netbooks and people who mostly just use the web for everything. As with all things Google, the release has been all over the blogosphere, but there has not been the typical “THIS IS AWESOME” response. There are two reasons for this. First, Chromium is seriously an alpha product. If ChromeOS will not be ready until this time next year, there must be a ton of work to do. The second reason, which many blogs have not stated, is that everyone knows this will fail.
ChromeOS will fail because the timing is not right. If mobile phones were still those nasty little devices that made even checking email a chore, it would have a chance. However, with new BlackBerry devices, Droids and iPhones, we have the web everywhere we go. So, if the major benefits are web-only applications and a small and fast operating system, what do I really need it for? Even the mobile devices can store applications and tons of music. ChromeOS is not going to let me store anything local? Well, how do I play my music? How do I look at my pictures before I upload them to Flickr?
What if success of ChromeOS is not the point? What if the point is to get you used to Google having an operating system on your netbook or PC? What if this is just a big UI or skinning experiment? Maybe this is just a stepping stone until Android is really ready for your PC. That sounds like a real plan, especially from the likes of Google. Get some serious hype around a product, deserved hype as well from what the reviews say, and start leveraging its success in other areas.
That is why ChromeOS will fail, because it is not supposed to succeed. It is just an experiment in UI and operating system design. Whatever they learn will then be pushed into Android, the desktop OS.