Could they find a niche as a secondary work device? Not when there are netbooks and tablet PCs that do more. The Cr-48's that Google is sending out are not fit to be work machines because, as much as Google and other vendors would like to think, we don't all work in the cloud yet. We will soon enough as broadband expands, Internet connectivity becomes more reliable and cloud services win over security-wary IT managers -- but we're not there today.
Which begs the question: Is Google just way ahead of us here? Certainly Google is one of the most innovative companies ever, and its other foray into operating systems, mobile wunderkind Android, is a smash success. But the Chrome OS notebook feels less like an innovation than the act of a wealthy company that felt obligated to do something in the PC market and then let an internal experiment be released to the wild prematurely.
Nevertheless, the Cr-48 prototype we see today is not what will hit stores next summer (If indeed it hits stores at all. A former Google employee predicts Google will kill Chrome OS or merge it with Android before then). Google will likely spend the winter and spring bolstering the Chrome OS so it has more offline access, better Flash support, and the ability to download all types of documents and connect to all types of USB devices.
You know, like a real computer.
What do you think of the Chrome OS notebook? Is the world ready for, or does it need, a bare-bones cloud notebook?
Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.
This story, "Google Chrome OS: Less is (Not) More" was originally published by CIO.