The significance of Chrome
Yesterday Google released a new browser called Chrome. This one of the most significant recent developments in the computing industry and will have a huge impact on business computing.
To understand the importance of Chrome we need to look at what else is happening in the computing industry.
PC’s are dropping to sub $US500 products will quickly drop to less than $US200. At those prices the combination of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, software that is normally purchased with the new hardware, becomes an increasingly disproportionate part of the total cost.
Hardware companies like HP and Dell are therefore motivated to uncouple hardware sales from the Microsoft products.
Once applications live inside a browser, they don’t need to use many features of the operating system. New browsers like Chrome and Firefox 3 allow some information to be stored inside the browser as well. Google has a related initiative called Google Gears that provides for offline capability and storage in web applications.
As web based applications store your information securely in central data centers – rather than on your own computer – you don’t even need a hard disk to run your web apps. The open source Linux operating system can run on a single chip. So a computer can be reduced down to basically a keyboard and screen.
Google Chrome is available in beta now for Windows, and soon in Mac and Linux versions. The Linux version is the significant news as it can be distributed for free.
That means that Chrome + Linux takes the operating system and desktop productivity tools costs out of the stack. Chrome isn’t significant because it’s great technology. Chrome is significant because its Google. Google Chrome is a direct attack on the existing Microsoft based PC, Windows and Office stack.
Google make their money out of advertising and other services so they are very motivated to do this. As are the hardware manufacturers.
It’s not only Microsoft that would be concerned. Apple would also have their eyebrows raised as the Operating System is disintermediated. Hence their MobileMe strategy to gain lock in and ongoing revenue.
This is going to drive a huge amount of innovation as the big guys go to war. And Microsoft will fire its shots with Office Live soon – though the goal posts have been moved.
Microsoft is the only global software mega-vendor that sells into small businesses. So this space is crucial for them and we expect to see a huge investment now to maintain their position in this massive market.
This is great news for both small and large businesses as the costs of computing are going to dramatically reduce allowing a greater proliferation of computing devices throughout businesses
Of course this is great news for the SaaS industry as the high value part of the equation becomes much more about the applications that drive business benefits.
Chrome is an accelerator for the industry. It’s now all about the apps.