Considering that the general domain for this blog, as its name implies, is the evolution of the enterprise IT organization towards the year 2017 (10 years from when I started this blog), Google‘s announcement of its planned Chrome OS is, I believe, a very big deal – or, at least, will prove to be over the next 3 to 5 years.
Most of my consulting clients have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft in general, and Windows in particular. Microsoft takes an increasingly significant bite out of the IT budget, and the cost of resources needed to keep PC‘s running and secure is a substantial burden on enterprise IT organizations – one they they get little to no credit for. (As I’ve noted before, IT infrastructure activities such as keeping PC’s running are only visible when they fail!)
Overshooting User Requirements
Clayton Christensen, in his classic book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” points out that over time, through a successive series of minor innovations, products tend to overshoot a their performance needs beyond which the typical user can absorb. (How much of Windows do you really need and use? How many features of MS Office go unused by all but the hardiest of users?) This overshooting of product capabilities leaves great openings for new market entrants to come in well below current performance thresholds with products that fully meet the needs of the typical user, without the encumbrances of the bells and whistles – often derisively referred to as “bloatware.” That is the play being made successfully today with Netbooks. That is also the play, I believe, Google made previously with Google Apps, and is now making with Chrome OS. But in the latter case, its not just a stripped down OS (with the speed and simplicity benefits that brings), but an OS designed from the outset for a Web-based universe.
Inevitably, not everyone believes Chrome OS will be a slam dunk for Google. (See for example, David Coursey’s Tech Inciter blog at PC World – Five Reasons Google Chrome OS Will Fail.) I personally don’t buy David’s arguments – they mostly seem to be relative to today’s marketplace. I believe the enterprise market will be more than ready for such an innovation by the time it really hits the marketplace, and that Google Chrome OS represents the first real threat to Microsoft hegemony over the desktop. It’s also interesting to note that in the same week Google made this announcement, they also removed the “beta” designation from Google Mail (a beta that was 5 years in the making!)
What do you think? Are you likely to switch from Windows if Chrome OS delivers against its promises?