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Ars’ Jon Stokes hails Chrome OS as the second coming of the PC

Daniel Eran Dilger

In his latest effort to cram most of a thesaurus into an Ars Technica article, Jon Stokes has written a glowing tribute to the web search emperor’s new clothes: Chrome OS, and outlines why Google will save the PC from itself. He’s wrong, here’s why.
I can’t help myself

I’m not excited to be writing another article critical of something from Google, lest I further embolden my circle of critics who love to write me off as a fanboy of Apple, without regard to the fact that everything I write pretty much turns out to be spot on and deadly accurate.

Fake Steve Jobs (aka Daniel Lyons) recently castigated me for knocking Android (well, ostensibly, but really for my having assailed his career arc as a Linux basher and complicit Microsoft stooge) in a parody that was actually pretty funny if you haven’t seen it yet.

There are others who are less comical in their efforts to discredit me, like the retired Android hobbyist who wrote me scathing hate mail about how insulting it was to see me say out loud that the Android Market is pretty much just a hobbyist shareware rummage sale. He threatened to have ZDNet look into my background to answer the burning question “does Phil Schiller sign your checks?”

I’m also wary of being silenced by Google (both in search and in ads, because Google monopolizes both on the web) for voicing any alternative viewpoints on its various strategies. But I have to write this, and can’t stop myself, so here it is.

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : Guest blogger Daniel Eran Dilger on why Android will fail
Daniel Lyons: Fake Steve Jobs and the SCO Shill Who Hated Linux
Forbes’ Fake Steve Jobs Is Also Fake On Apple

Core competencies

Chrome OS is an interesting attempt to pull off something that has failed in the past: delivering a web appliance as an alternative to the low-end PC. Perhaps with Google’s ad muscle, the company can make the new venture work. I’d like to see Chrome OS succeed, because it would be a strong validation of HTML5 as an open platform for web developers.

But given that Chrome OS is still unfinished and unproven and will be for another year, it’s a bit much to be touting it as having vanquished the status quo and solved all the problems of PCs, as Stokes recently did in his article on Ars, particularly when the new web OS really does nothing to solve any problems and instead only raises several new and significant limitations.

There’s lots to like about Google in general. It’s very successful at web search and monetizing web content (like mine) and apps (like the excellent Maps and so on) and building core web technologies (note that I’m a big fan of HTML5, and Google can be considered the main proponent of that). But Google is no Apple. It has no hardware expertise, no consumer savvy, no real capacity to create intuitive user interfaces. Like Microsoft, Google has been quite successful at being itself, but really bad at pretending to be Apple.

This being the case, I’ve been quick to criticize pundits who arrive at the conclusion that any company that decides to compete against Apple on its home turf will be wildly successful, despite lacking any experience, customer loyalty, and so on. Like the Microsoft Zune or…

Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history

Take Android

For example, when it was first rumored that Google had bought Android and was developing a new open source strategy related to mobiles, I wrote that those who thought this meant that Google would be developing an iPhone-killer were flat out wrong. I explained that Google has no interest in killing the iPhone, and instead that it wanted to kill Windows Mobile and another platforms that might block Google’s access to mobile web dollars. This appeared prescient in 2007 when I wrote it, but it’s pretty obvious now.

The Great Google gPhone Myth

I have repeated this over and over as it slowly became more obvious to pundits who make their living stirring up false or sensationalized information to generate ad clicks. There is nothing wrong with Android as Google intended it be, it’s just that Google didn’t create Android to be “an iPhone” in a world-changing sense of new technology designed to shake up the industry.

Android was designed to replace WiMo and in its place install Google’s adware/spyware platform on the same limited hardware phones that Microsoft designed. It’s that simple. The Android platform is going to continue to be a Windows-style mess, but it won’t benefit from the monopoly protection that Microsoft enjoyed because there’s too much competition within Android (because Google isn’t policing things like Microsoft did in PCs) and outside of the platform (iPhone, RIM, Symbian, and Bada all have bigger names in smartphone hardware behind them than Android does, and even Palm is in the running with its own WebOS).

Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as core platforms
Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as advancing technology
Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as business models
Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as software markets

Chrome OS

Chrome OS is a very different ball of wax compared to Android, even if both share a lot some of the same wax. Many of the problems I see in Android do not necessarily apply to Chrome OS, because while Android is trying to beat Windows Mobile at its own game, Chrome OS is trying to take on Windows XP as being the way people launch their web browser on netbooks, a completely different kind of effort.

Stokes wrote an impassioned piece about Chrome OS for Ars, and describes it (I’m paraphrasing here) as Google ‘starting with the Internet and making an OS, rather than starting with an OS and trying to figure out how to make the Internet’s series of tubes fit together, which is currently an experience like trying to eat flan while skydiving.’ He writes as if Apple and Microsoft have been unsuccessfully falling all over each other for the past 15 years in trying to figure out how to allow PC users to browse the web, let alone The Cloud.

This is such complete nonsense that its simply embarrassing to read. First off, neither Mac OS X nor even Windows 7 have hit any wall of diminishing returns that requires a new approach to PC operating systems answered by HTTP access alone. But secondly, Google hasn’t invented something brilliantly new here. Chrome OS is a distribution of Linux that only runs one app: a web browser.

It’s that simple.

Google is adding value by stripping away conventional services that a PC normally runs (and which aren’t necessary on a netbook, the idea goes), and building support around HTML5 to enable web apps to do things that a conventional browser hasn’t been able to do before. That includes offline browsing, local thin client style storage on solid state disk, and a stronger security partition around individual web pages, so one tab’s browser exploit can’t affect things happening on another browser tab.

Chrome OS: Internet failing at PC > PC failing at Internet
Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history

Rather than being anything like Android, Chrome OS is another take on the Palm Pre’s WebOS platform, but for netbooks rather than iPhone killers. Unlike Palm’s new OS, Chrome OS is backed by Google’s vast fortunes and can be implemented by a variety of hardware makers. Or from the opposite perspective, it’s backed by a company with no hardware or consumer platform expertise and set to be deployed across a mess of fractionalized, squabbling competitors two years after the Palm WebOS was first announced.

Features are flaws written upside down

Chrome OS is a laudable, interesting project, but Stokes gets so excited about things that he begins to gloss over reality and spew completely asinine stuff. Among the new systems “features” are a series of flaws written upside down, such as:

“The OS will support only a limited number of Google-blessed devices and peripherals, which is Google’s way of ensuring reliability and security.” Yeah this was always a popular feature on other platforms that would only work with a few vendor-approved devices. It was such a drag for users that Windows could work with pretty much anything.

The OS will also be awesome because Google will ostensibly “optimize it for Internet HTTP traffic: very high numbers of simultaneous connections and high latencies. Thus Google can make tradeoffs down in the networking stack that give a better user experience on ChromeOS, without worrying about how the OS will perform on a LAN with different file protocols and such.”

In other words, Chrome OS won’t be able to connect to network file shares. Or torrents. Yeah that’s awesome. And it’s cool Google started with the Linux kernel, which offers so much more that needs to be rewritten and optimized compared to the superior networking stack of BSD. Clearly, Google wants to deliver the most highly optimized network technologies possible for its cheapskate users browsing the web on low cost mobile netbooks, where the network stack is so much more important than the scant amount of RAM and the available Atom/ARM mobile processor resources.

And what about the core weakness of the web as a platform, that it is abstracted so far from away from the underlying hardware? Well, there are emerging standards to bridge this gulf using open APIs for accessing things like the GPU. But rather than backing the WebGL 3D API standard pushed by Khronos (OpenGL), Mozilla and others, Google went out and bought a company, in the style of Microsoft, and plans to use that company’s competing O3D API instead.

This isn’t necessarily bad, and Google’s 3D API efforts are not proprietary like Microsoft’s, but Stokes writes it all up like it’s a feature that Chrome OS devices won’t have any real graphics power, and that it’s a good thing that Google isn’t embracing community standards. This reeks of unhinged fanboyism rather than rational discussion of a technology and its suitability and prospects.

Next up: “while ChromeOS has a filesystem of some sort, you’ll never see it. I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled.” Yes, this is very innovative. Just like the iPhone. And when that came out, everyone in punditland blew a gasket about Apple ‘not being open and exercising too much control’ by taking away users’ view of their files. But when Google comes out and announces plans to do the same thing four years later (and a year from now), it’s the bee’s knees.

Ugly is a virtue if you use a thesaurus creatively

Stokes gets so carried away trying to express his deep passion for a vaporware concept still a year away that he resorts to blowing out what is perhaps the most opaque paragraph ever written on a tech website. The setup: a backhanded acknowledgment that web apps are generally all really ugly and unusable compared to the native apps (Mail and iTunes and so on) that users are accustomed to using.

“The unsightly way that Chrome OS implements Web-based knock-offs of regular desktop apps will strike many users as crude,” Stokes writes, before generating a paragraph with the clarity and brilliance of a lump of coal dipped in tar:

“But the awkward visual effect of Chrome OS is unlovely in the way that VisiCalc was unlovely, and not in the way that, say, many things about Apple’s iTunes or Windows Vista are unlovely. The former’s Spartan-looking imitations of traditional desktop apps are awkward because they represent an embryonic stage of something new (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny), while the latter’s frenzy of buttons and dialogs and sync options are less awkward than they are exhausted.”

Sometimes using a big word is the only way to get across the idea you have in mind, but that paragraph is so overwrought that it just insults the reader. And the message he conveys is not even significant. He could also have said, “Chrome OS currently looks like awkward crap, but there are things we don’t like about iTunes and Windows, too, and it looks like Google will somehow solve all its user interface issues from scratch faster than Apple and Microsoft can improve theirs, just because we have blind faith that Google can do no wrong, even in areas where it has no particular expertise nor proven track record.”

A slow and painful system of tubes

Microsoft and Apple are, Stokes writes, “currently involved in a slow and painful process of trying to stretch and push ‘the PC’ out towards the Internet and towards a more useful and integrated relationship with the cloud as a new type of server.”

Actually, no. Microsoft’s painful stretch occurred in 1996, and Apple’s in 2002. Microsoft is now sitting on the web like a satiated buffet client in Vegas. Apple is delivering innovative Internet and web services that millions of people actually pay for, unlike Google’s adware services that most people will only use for free. It’s not Apple or Microsoft that is struggling to put together a cohesive push strategy for mobile and desktop users. It’s Google stretching to deliver this with an adware business model. That’s not even really novel, and not without competition.

“So while I could write a book about all the ways in which Apple and Microsoft have failed at the Internet over the past decade,” Stokes concludes, “as of today I can only write a few lines about the ways in which ChromeOS may or may not fail at the PC.”

Google has never failed in war with Eurasia

Well, that’s because Google has yet to fail at anything. Except for failing to compete against YouTube with its own Google Video service, and subsequently having to buy out its much smaller rival. And its various products that didn’t work out, like Google Catalogs, Google Notebooks, Google Mashup Editor, Dodgeball (an SMS location reporting app), and a Twitter competitor called Jaiku. And Knol, that thing that was supposed to replace Wikipedia.

And never mind that Android is just Windows Mobile without the Windows part. No doubt web users’ brand familiarity with Google is going to cause them to buy Chrome OS devices from netbook makers that they wouldn’t otherwise buy were they only running X11/Linux or Windows, and everyone will overlook the fact that netbooks running nothing but a web browser have significant disadvantages never before experienced by users. Some of those disadvantages are the reason Linux hasn’t worked out, even running on netbooks where there isn’t nearly as much in the way of expectations as conventional PCs.

I personally hope Chrome OS takes off and offers a suitable competitor on the low end to make cheap, useful appliance netbooks. It will be interesting to see how these stack up against devices like the iPod touch, which do the web but also do games and apps and offer iPod features. Maybe it will force Apple to offer Bluetooth keyboard support for the iPhone OS, to enable a mini-laptop sort of feature that I’ve requested before. I’m all up for competition.

However, while gushing specious accolades for vaporware still a year away is somewhat irresponsible, and stating things like “And in 2009, it’s a much bigger deal for a PC company to fail at the Internet than it is for an Internet company to fail at the PC” are downright ridiculous. It’s 2009 and Chrome OS is nowhere to be seen. And PCs are not “failing at the Internet” in any way, shape or form. Windows PCs and Mac are the way 97.8% of the world accesses the Internet!

Time is on Google’s side?

Not content to let that be the most absurd line in the article however, Stokes finished with, “Right now, at least, Google has time on its side, and the company can afford to release cloud clients (Android and ChromeOS) that start out awkward and immature, and let them develop as the user-facing part of a still-evolving cloud.”

Right, Google has lots of time to wait around before Microsoft recovers from its Vista disaster (remember when the same window of opportunity was presented as dire and fleeting for Apple two years ago?) and before Apple takes out an even more solid claim of the market both in PCs with the Mac and mobiles with the iPhone and iPod touch. It’s a waiting game! Perhaps Google would do even better if it holds out to 2012.

I appreciate Ars writing original articles rather than just closely paraphrasing mine and reprinting them without attribution (I wish they’d stop doing that entirely), but this kind of boldly-stated puffery should not have made it past the editor.

  • http://somethingmild.blogspot.com ModplanMan

    Nice article. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I tend to read Ars, although do find they have a tendency for what you might call “over-written” articles.

    I think you should take a look at the concept of innovative disruption. Methinks ChromeOS fits this pattern pretty well, and could very well be the future.

  • http://scottworldblog.wordpress.com scotty321

    Another great article, Daniel. Your detractors don’t know what they’re talking about — time has proven again & again & again that you are one of the VERY FEW writers on the entire Internet that makes any sense about the technology industry. Keep up the great work.

  • Josh

    Insightful as always. But what gives you the impression that BSD’s networking stack is “superior” to Linux’s? Given the ubiquity of Linux as a web server, I think it’s safe to say that Linux does networking quite well.

  • Ludor

    I just giggled the whole way through. Great (if a bit vicious) reading, and top grade analysis.

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  • talonhawk

    BSD is widely regarded as having the best TCP/IP stack EVAR. I don’t know how subjective something like that is, but you can read all about it on the interweb.

  • Ludor

    Also, I’m with Josh on that question.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter
  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    A couple of points:

    1) Chrome is portable. There’s no reason someone couldn’t port it to Free BSD.

    2) This is a defensive move by Google, to prevent Microsoft from using their Windows monopoly against the Google Search/Ad system. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, as long as it works.

    3) Microsoft has lots of cash. Latest rumor is that they are working a deal with Rupert Murdoch to take his media sites behind a Microsoft paywall. In simple terms, Google wouldn’t be allowed to index them, only Bing. Of course this assumes that people will pay, and that Microsoft can keep putting money in Murdoch’s pocket.

    There’s a lot of weird crap going on right now. ACTA for instance. And of course there’s the MPAA/RIAA’s efforts to make Peer to Peer more efficient.

    Rather than design something that the customer wants, and is willing to pay for, too many people seem to want “Money for Nothing”, Microsoft included.

  • http://jonnytilney.com Jon T

    I think you should publicise the articles which restate your words without attribution so we can shame Ars Technica on your behalf. Because I for one also loathe that behaviour.

    And as for Stokes, he’s only trying to suck up to all the folk who have no idea that Google can actually be a normal business and not some heroic world saviour.

    I personally think that Android and Chrome will damage Microsoft, because the cheap as chips end of the market should be on free software, not being screwed yet one more time by MS.

  • http://www.majid.info/ fazalmajid

    “web apps are generally all really ugly and unusable compared to the native apps (Mail and iTunes and so on) that users are accustomed to using”

    True, but webmail rather than POP/IMAP actually accounts for a majority of consumer email usage nowadays, so arguably for mail at least webapps are what users are accustomed to.
    [Hmm, if that’s the case (and I’d like to see supprting evidence), I’d say it’s only because many people on Windows are unable to configure email to work correctly, because it’s just too complicated. Nobody would pick webmail over a full featured email client. And Chrome OS webmail is not even going to be competitive with the iPhone Mail client. – Dan

  • sprockkets

    @Josh, maybe he is referring to the fact of how many times the Linux kernel has rewritten core stuff like that many times. It’s just their way of doing things, as in, we can redo the USB interface so many times to improve performance because we have “no stinkin api” to be compatible with.
    Maybe it is something else though.

  • sprockkets

    Oh, yeah, on the no access to the file system on the iphone, that is a deal breaker for me. I’d like to store stuff, download stuff while on the fly. I can’t download an mp4 file to listen to from a web site. That stinks (though I can view qt videos on apple’s site, weird).

  • gus2000

    “Oh wow, I see you’re using Chome, too!”
    “Yeah, it’s great. Did you jailbreak yours so that you could run other apps?”
    “Of course! But, what’s Rick Astley doing on my desktop???”

  • http://www.majid.info/ fazalmajid

    Windows’ TCP/IP stack is derived from BSD’s. Keep in mind Google actually has its own Linux kernel drivers for some critical things like networking. They can tune the stack with defaults that make sense for WAN use.

    As for UI design, you are wrong to dismiss Google out of the hand. What they did with Google Maps is nothing short of amazing, specially considering they did not use Flash (apart from Street View). There are thus at least some people within Google who have a clue about UI design.

    Ultimately every single Network Computer concept or Thin Client computer failed because the devices ended up being actually more expensive than a dirt-cheap general-purpose Windows PC despite the Microsoft tax, due to lack of economies of scale. The fact a ChromeOS device is limited to the web will ensure consumers assign a lower value to it and will expect to have to pay less. Its virtues of quick boot and rock-solid security are not advantages people are prepared to pay for.

    I can see some situations where ChromeOS can succeed. Computers for children, where you really want it to be locked down. A cheap embedded OS for future HDTVs, since consumer electronic vendors cannot design a UI or OS. On public access or library information kiosks, digital signage, airport information screens, point of sales terminals, or basically any other application where you would use a dumb terminal or thin client. These are all niches, however.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    Nobody would pick webmail over a full featured email client.

    Dan, actually I prefer Gmail over Mail for most things. I do use Mail for business purposes, but that’s only because our business web based mail interface looks like Yahoo from ten years ago.

    And Chrome OS webmail is not even going to be competitive with the iPhone Mail client.

    That we don’t know, until we see it.

    FYI, I don’t use my IPhone for email. I do use it for directions when driving, keeping up with the disaster that pretends to be a hockey team in Toronto, Calendering, camera, weather, notes, contacts, keeping up with NASA (neat app), Guitar chord finding, ebooks, and a bunch of other small things.

  • http://www.majid.info/ fazalmajid

    You misunderstand me. I can’t stand webmail either. Here are some stats:
    Webmails account for 35%, but I would venture a guess that the majority of Outlook users are corporate users, not consumers. Interestingly, the iPhone email client has already overtaken GMail and is nipping at the heels of Mail.app.

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  • danpoarch

    I think Chrome is a response to something Google knows Apple will be doing with the tablet. I have no complaints about a device that I never have to touch an ounce of operating system. BUT it has to be done right. And I just don’t see Google having the answer. Google has failed at nearly everything its done except search, maps and email. If there’s anything brilliant about gmail other than the fact that it works.

    I would be excited to see an Apple tablet that runs the iPhone OS (but can also download and play MP3s). I firmly believe that this is what everybody actually wants. Something that “just works.” Mind you, most of us don’t want it, but the sheep… They have different needs.

    Back to my point, this locked-down internet client would be exactly what Google wants out of Chrome… But I think we all know who can pull it off between Apple and the Goog.

    PS: What if Apple had as many failures since 2000 as Google had? What if Google had as many successes?

  • John E

    Well, i can actually forgive some Ars guy for getting carried away with “cloud fever.” everybody wants to be a “visionary” these days. it’s good to poke fun at him, but don’t be too harsh.

    whereas, i wish RDM would truly nail Ars for its made-up App Store bashing campaign, with two more Ars rants published in the last week. Apple is being sooooo mean (even “evil” some others say) to developers. The app review process is sooooo hard. the uncertainty of the rules is sooooo great. why, developers are leaving “in droves”! innovation is being crushed!!

    exactly how many developers constitute a “drove”? a half-dozen publicity seeking crybabies? which is all i can count so far.

    Ars et al. never address the fundamental logic flaw of their whining: if it is so bad/hard/miserable to get an app approved, then how did over 100,000 apps by thousands of developers already make it? is innovation is so thwarted, then why are their amazing new apps every month pushing mobile capabilities to previously unimagined categories and purposes?

    of course it’s really just some Ars guys and their cronies sitting around some place pissing and moaning about bad ol’ Apple. that’s cool. but to then format that BS’ing into “punditry” on a purported serious web site – that is irresponsible journalism. if “journalism” is the term they wished to be judged by.

  • dallasmay

    I e-mailed you earlier about ChromeOS, and I still think you might be underestimating Google. I really think Google has more up it’s sleeve here. Google’s Chrome Web Browser successfully beats back any attempt by MS to block Google. As does their support of Firefox. Both of these are much more effective and easier than trying to sell hardware. Google is not divulging all of their secrets. All I’m saying is that there has to be more to this game than just a new netbook OS.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    The problem I have with WebOSs like ChromeOS and WebOS is that it requires you to PAY to use your device.

    Here in New Zealand dataplans are a joke. On my LAN connection I’m paying roughly $80(NZ)/month for 20GB of data and on my cellphone I’m paying roughly $50/month for 1GB (yes 1GB) of data. Now I’d like to actually be able to use that data to download software and movies and music etc not RUN MY DEVICE.

    This is the biggest flaw in internet operating systems and software, not the limited style (which incidentally Apple has done an amazing job with using Sproutcore for Mail) of the interface. The big problem that keeps me turning away from Google Docs is not that it’s a very simple interface but if my Internet connection goes down I run the risk of losing my files that I’ve been working on.

    Apple got this side right by having a full desktop client application in iWork and then having an online collaborative service with iWork.com.

  • ChuckO

    Pheew, I was getting worried there wouldn’t be anything new posted this close to the holidays and this turned out to be a good one.

    I agree with Dan 100% this is nowhere near a slam dunk and way to early to be getting ecstatic visions over. I’m glad Google’s doing it. It will be neat to see how this goes but it sure will be a shockingly new world for typical non-technical consumer’s.

    I also love gMail and don’t feel like I’m missing anything from a traditional email client. I also really like Mobile Me’s mail client. I probably slightly prefer gMail because I like the threaded conversation approach to emails.

  • http://blog.cytv.com cy_starkman

    As I offered in a prior post

    chromeos looks a lot like windows 3.xx which fits the visicalc theme nicely.

    Google is UI clueless. Maps aren’t exempted, it was bought out by Google and came with that interface, it was designed outside google and has never changed since. Earth is their desktop example and it’s clunky at best.

    Even their lauded search interface is clunky, sure it’s simple and quick but try and step beyond and it quickly changes.

    Googles product is advertising, all it’s choices support that. This is not about clouds, cheap computing or user experience. It’s about a controlled advertising platform that can target users more effectively and sustain that targeting even if they swap computers. it’s about gaining access to user documents so they can be scoured for keywords to target ads at and it’s about limiting applications and file types so that the user can only work with monitorable content and is choiceless to not be targeted.

    I don’t see it as a defensive move. MS cannot use windows to usurp google’s ad crown, it would be a disaster with the user base (if they want windows free it doesn’t need an ad supported version, they just pirate it). Rather I see it as an aggressive move to increase not market share (pointless and would just attract monopoly hunters) but the value of each impression to advertisers. More money to be made by charging more for each ad than selling more ads.

    Google Chrome will yet again bring an increase to percentage of network traffic wasted on ads.

    Truly the march of the spam kings knows no bounds.

  • ulicar

    “everything I write pretty much turns out to be spot on and deadly accurate.”
    Are you serious? You are? In what sort of alternate universe is this correct? Lets’ use only let’s say 20 of your posts, that should be OK to check how “spot on and deadly accurate.”

    Ok, let’s see. A-ha, let see http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2009/10/30/why-apples-iphone-is-still-not-coming-to-verizon/ “A number of pundits and other wags keep insisting that Apple desperately needs to sell the iPhone through Verizon, and will likely do so sometime really soon now, providing AT&T haters and Verizon family plan users with empty hope. They’re still wrong, here’s why” and then let us check http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2009/11/06/report-apple-to-launch-verizon-iphone-in-q3-2010/ and see “A new report citing sources in the Taiwan handset supply chain says Apple has contracted to produce a UMTS/CDMA hybrid iPhone due in the third quarter of next year that will enable the company to sell a single global handset to all carriers, and specifically to Verizon Wireless in the US.”
    Now that is like, what, seven days and I have proven you that you might be spot on, but which spot, that is different, and about deadly accuracy, well, it is all in the eye of whoever was standing miles of target, which you missed. So, please….

    [If the only significant complaint about my accuracy that you can manage is the fact that I outlined very clearly why the pundits have been wrong over the past 3 years (I took on the “CDMA is a make or break thing for the iPhone!” from my first articles in early 2007), and that I have reported on the possibility (still unrealized) as to how Apple could expand to Verizon next year, then yes, I think that counts as deadly accurate, particularly when compared to everyone else saying the opposite, which has made them wrong over the past three years.

    Nuance is your friend if you are an honest intellectual. Broad sweeping generalizations are the ally of idiots and propagandists. Take that as you like.]

    Now to biz. Chrome is Google’s attempt to gain a foothold in the corporate world. They do not really care about you, or me. Not yet, anyway. I have quite an experience in the world of upgrading corporations from one OS version to another. Chrome avoids the whole problem. There are no upgrades visible to the customer. Customer sits see what they want to use (google docs) and go. Google might have switched the whole infrastructure, no issues presented to the customer. Well if done right, not like MS.

    [Google has what percentage of the corporate world’s productivity suite market in terms of unit sales, installed base and dollar sales? I don’t think you can seriously suggest it has anything but potential.]

    They already sell appliances to the corporate customers which they can fill with their online software and there you go. You have the whole corporation upgraded in less time that needed to upgrade one PC.

    I will not switch to Chrome (or Android), not yet anyway, because I do other things with my PC, not just excel, word, calc, calendar, email… My stuff is heavy I need it on my side. Excel SS is not heavy. It is quite small no matter how many records you have. For that Chrome is quite useful. No backup needed, because it is backed up by simply saving (in three places for your info). If you want to have your excel spreadsheet available to you whenever and wherever on PC so light and simple that it cannot run anything else, but chrome, Chrome is a way to go. Thin clients are back. Last year (and a few before) rich clients were way to go, before that thin, befote that rich, before that… than now again…

    [Actually, all along the IT world has been using fat client PCs to serve as thin clients: 3270 terminals, then citrix terminals, then IE web app browsers. The IT industry has been captive to the biggest rip-off in history, and Microsoft profited massively. Google has yet to prove that it can take away Microsoft’s business. I’m not betting against Google, but it’s hasn’t earned a trophy yet. – Dan]

  • Urs W. Keller

    I agree with Daniel about most what he writes, but I got the feeling the we leave an important part out of the story, namely the business model. Google wants (needs …) to sell ads and keep Microsofts push into cloud-based services (Office, …) in check. They see an appliance (= a netbook-like hardware + ChromeOS + Chrome browser + Google apps), maybe even combined with a resonable data plan and offered via a telephone company, as a way to do that. Methinks that selling such a device would be more attractive to telcos due to the locked-down (and therefore potentially more stable), cell phone-like nature of such a device.

  • sprockkets

    fazalmajid, from what I’ve read years ago Vista ditched the BSD networking stack.

  • ShabbaRanks

    It’s amazing how many people (deduced from reading the comments) don’t realise that the Fake Steve Jobs blog is a joke/parody site. I agree with you Dan, it’s a pretty funny send-up.

    Now, about the article above. I’ll be back when I’ve read it.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter


    And they wonder why networking was such a disaster in Vista. Sigh.

    Fake Steve Jobs. Fake Dan Lyons. Next we’ll have a Fake Daniel Eran Dilger….

  • http://www.adviespraktijk.info Berend Schotanus

    I had already read Jon Stokes’ article and I actually liked it, just as I liked his analysis on WebOS. I liked it because he has a clear and original vision, which indeed isn’t so easy to find on the Internet (reason why I’m sticking to RDM).

    It is not so easy to predict where the future is heading us. Most companies only add features in fear of missing something and the result is you literally get overwhelmed with crap. For that reason I found the “features are flaws written upside down” part of Jon’s story quite interesting. I am a big fan of my MacBook Air, “featuring” no optical drive, no changeable battery etc. and I am willing to give a moment of my attention to see whether such a “less is more” strategy would work for Chrome OS.

    However, there was also a reversal point in my appreciation of the article and I can tell you quite precisely where it was. In the comments there was a guy who said: “Listen, I’m 55 years old and I’ve seen it all before. It’s just waves of centralization / decentralization. First we had mainframes, than PC’s, than Sun came with its thin network client. Googles thin client is not so different from Suns thin client.”

    Somehow this hit me on my pain spot: Keep your hands off the PC-Revolution! It has to do with power, the idea there is some centralized authority who can enforce its will to all decentralized clients. I hate that. So for the moment (are you listening, Google?) I am quite happy that I can keep some computing power and data storage within my own jurisdiction.

  • mark

    You forgot Orkut… but then, everyone does. Released to much fanfare, I was quite interested. But it was invite-only.

    Apparently it’s big in India, but I’m sure Facebook has noticed that.

  • mark

    @berend – I totally agree, I’ve seen it all before too and I’m only 41. The web browser is quite literally no different from a “smart” terminal, except that it’s prettier. The main driver of the current revolution (circle, not disruption) is that cost of computing has come down to the point where Google can afford to have what amounts to the world’s biggest mainframe, everyone can log into it at a low marginal cost, and they can create novel services from that.

    There is a huge market for ChromeOS but it’s not going to take over the world. I was intrigued to read that despite the impact GMail has had on web mail, the iPhone has a larger market share. This speaks volumes to me.

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Neil Anderson

    “It is not so easy to predict where the future is heading us.” Especially in advance.

  • drheywood

    Google—A bunch of hyperactive engineers boldly going where designers don’t and then offering whatever they find for free.

  • Steve White

    Daniel notes the vaporware aspect, and I wonder if that is what ChromeOS is most about.

    So ChromeOS is not quite ‘Cairo’ but it is a way for Google to lock certain markets and keep the attention away from their competitors, which as we know is what Microsoft does best.

    As long as the pundits are hyping ChromeOS, they’re not hyping … whatever it is Microsoft is trying to do. Since Google sees MS as the biggest threat to their business model, this makes sense. If MS succeeds in getting traction with Windows 7 on small devices (I could get a date with Megan Fox, it could happen) and can push those devices onto people, that could (along with the Murdoch move, etc) began to lock markets away from Google and its search engine.

    ChromeOS prevents that. Who’s going to buy any new small device, be it netbook, tablet, etc that is MS-branded or has an MS operating system when — as we all know and have been told over and over — ChromeOS is just around the corner and it’s the most awesomest bestest thing evar?

    ChromeOS is very, very clever vaporware. Google needs to freeze MS, and this could be a big part of that.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    But why would you want a date with Megan Fox? She disappears when she turns sideways.

    One thing I am certain of is that Chrome isn’t vaporware. Google can’t afford not to deliver. Their partner, Ubuntu, also can’t afford not to deliver. If they don’t deliver, Microsoft, by taking control of content kills off Apple, Microsoft’s only remaining competition in software (Google is a search engine. Ubuntu, as much as I like it, isn’t really competition to Microsoft).

    Of course Microsoft at present appears to be aiming at the English language market only, quite possibly because even they don’t have enough money to buy up every media outlet on the planet. The English language ones, well, they can’t manage that either, but they can try hard, with Murdoch’s assistance.

  • ulicar

    I don’t think you understand thin/rich client and what they are, but that is not important

    As for accurate or not, I used your blog to point out your delusion. Anyway. As I said, to me it smells like google is going for the corporate customers and why. I know of several huge corporations that are testing their apps. What might happen in the future…

  • http://appleseed-as.blogspot.com/ appleseed.as

    Mr. Daniel Eran Dilger you should really read this ridiculous “Why Apple is a joke in the business world” article. http://apcmag.com/why-apple-is-a-joke-in-the-business-world.htm

    FUD alert!

    I’ll give you a piece from there:
    “Jones argued that despite the checking system, security flaws were likely to emerge on the iPhone. “Over the next few years, things like the App Store are going to be a rich source of security problems in the enterprise.”

    Jones also suggested that Apple would be highly resistant to the emerging HTML 5 standard, which might make it possible to deliver complicated applications via the iPhone browser without enduring Apple’s infamous application approval process. “I bet you they cripple HTML 5 as well,” he said. “I do not believe Steve Jobs’ piratical view wants apps loaded into the browser outside Steve Jobs’ control, and that’s what HTML 5 gives you.””

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    Hah. The same guy wrote an article declaring Chrome OS vaporware.

    He also spent most of an article about a Sony Blu-Ray disc burning plant discussing the inclusion of the images of a topless woman in the Disney movie ‘The Rescuers’ and seemed far more excited about the fact that the Blu-Ray plant won’t burn porn, than about anything else.

    And this is a professional writer?

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    For anyone who has a Dell Mini 10V, a Beta copy of Chrome is available, proof that the project isn’t vaporware.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    And here’s Microsoft’s worst nightmare, an ARM netbook. Since Windows 2K/XP/Vista/Seven won’t run on ARM, they’d have to rely on Windows CE to compete. There is virtually no software available for Windows CE, whereas with minor modifications almost all of the X86/AMD64 Linux apps could be ported to ARM.

    This one should be interesting. Oh, and you aren’t allowed to call it a Smartbook anymore, the owner of the Smartbook trademark (a laptop manufacturer) has sent cease and desist letters out. This will mess up Microsoft’s intent to try and classify ARM machines differently, hoping they would be taken for toys.

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    sprockkets { 11.25.09 at 1:40 pm }
    Oh, yeah, on the no access to the file system on the iphone, that is a deal breaker for me. I’d like to store stuff, download stuff while on the fly. I can’t download an mp4 file to listen to from a web site. That stinks (though I can view qt videos on apple’s site, weird).

    There’s a difference between viewing a video and downloading a file obviously, but you can listen to mp4 files on the web (even in the background) on an iPhone:

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    ulicar { 11.27.09 at 7:36 pm }
    As I said, to me it smells like google is going for the corporate customers and why. I know of several huge corporations that are testing their apps. What might happen in the future…

    If Google were targeting the Enterprise, don’t you think they might, you know, target the Enterprise rather than partnering with netbook manufacturers?

    They’re going after the consumer netbook market because it’s the only market seeing any real growth outside of the premium computer market where Apple continues to dominate.

    Corporations don’t need to replace their existing boxes to run Google Docs, Calendar, and Gmail, they can run those in IE or, if their ITs will let them, Firefox, Safari or Chrome (the browser). Even if Google were allowing anyone to download Chrome OS, it’s only going to support SSDs (so Google can keep its promise of fast bootup), which would require major upgrades for corporations.

    Also, some here in the comments are muddling Chrome OS and Chromium. This is similar to comparing Darwin to Mac OS X.

    Chromium represents the core of what Chrome OS will run on top of. Chrome OS is not complete (thus it could be vaporware if Google never ends up releasing it), nor will it be freely available to anyone and everyone to download and tweak—that’s what Chromium is for (but again, it will be the Darwin of Chrome OS).

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    Sorry for the triple-post but upon further research, it sounds like Chromium OS is actually going to closely resemble Chrome OS, the difference being it will run on any hardware rather than just Google-sanctioned netbooks.

    This doesn’t negate Dan’s earlier point that Chrome OS could be vaporware if Google never completes it, though I have faith that they will deliver something.

  • ulicar

    @Nat we will c. IMHO netbooks are just tools we will c corporations start using more and more. Clouds and other nice buzzwords

  • http://twitter.com/NateTehGreat nat

    I haven’t heard of businesses or business execs opting for netbooks in any substantial volume. On the other hand, I’ve heard of many businesses and execs 1) trying out Google’s Docs/Calendars/Gmail and 2) ordering iPhones, which do much of what netbooks do, for less money and far less bulk.

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  • marian_

    I saw the presentation of Chrome OS and I believe Chrome OS is a hardware browser. It’s like the browser is etched in the silicon.

    Which gives me a very weird feeling.

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