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Can Google Chrome OS pass the “So What, Who Cares, Why Me” test?

Since working with Aneace Haddad at Taggo, I have inculcated the three questions which Aneace has kept asking himself as an entrepreneur.

Yes, we do throw ideas back and forth, but when the idea is on paper, we ask ourselves “So What, Who Cares and Why Me?" to the ideas. The next step is to ask if the feature or idea will be seen as a painkiller, vitamin or cocaine. No, we are not selling drugs, but rather a description to how the idea will be seen by potential client.

Thus, a little exercise I did by putting the Google Chrome OS in the limelight and to see if the new OS will pass the test.

So What?

The Google Chrome OS came about in the era when the netbook was hot. The netbook started from the ideas of the One Laptop Per Child and Asus decided to make a low end commercially available version with a Linux OS. As we know the Linux OS wasn’t that well received so Asus moved to Windows XP Home. Windows Vista would have made netbooks a slow moving brick. So netbooks jumped to the Windows 7 Starter Pack.

Windows OS isn’t really speedy. When you start a netbook with a Windows OS, a lot of codes behind the background. Some you would need, some you don’t. Some codes were left behind due to previous installation. Removing the application doesn’t really remove everything.

I even remember reading  articles on how computer users were starting their Windows powered notebooks had enough time to make and drink a piping hot cup of coffee before they can actually use the notebook.

So somebody at Google might have thought, “Hey, why not we remove all this unnecessary code and let the netbook boot up within 7 secs or less?” Sounds like a plan.

Plus the idea of cloud computing was gaining speed and most of Google apps were already on the cloud. So why not have a netbook which only had a browser and could startup or shutdown within 7 secs?

So what if I had a netbook that could boot up within 7 secs? Is a Mac capable of doing something similar? A netbook which really needs to be connected to the interNET before it can work,so what?

Who cares?

The engineers at Google might really care about the Chrome OS that it is still in production. It was announced in June 2009 and will be made available in machines in 2011. More than two ears in the making.

In the technology race, two years is a very long time. Things have changed since the introduction of the netbook.

First, the introduction of the iPad has made tablet PCs popular again. So by the time a Google Chrome OS is available in the market in 2011, tablet PCs will dominate the market. One can also now find China based tablets running on both Windows 7 and Andriod.  So the Chrome OS netbook will actually have to play catch up. something surprisingly or rather shocking for Google, who were at the forefront of search. 

Google will have to convince Tablet PC users that the Google Chrome OS netbook is better than their Android based tablets. Convincing notebook or even existing netbook users will be a big challenge too. I am a netbook user but I still install programs on it. Can such users live without installing a program in their entire life?

That’s left with the the non-tablet/netbook/notebook users. It would be a rather a small market there, but Google’s challenge isn’t any easier.

This is because prices of notebooks with good processor, graphic and even long battery life is falling at an alarming rate. You could get an Intel core i3 processor notebooks with ATI graphic card and 16 battery life at SGD1,000 and below.

This means that the Google Chrome OS powered netbook must be cheaper than a Windows powered netbook. You could get a HP netbook for SGD399. So how low can you go for the Google Chrome OS powered netbook?

This means that the vendor will have to source for very low cost supply which could affect the capability of the netbook. At the end of the vendor, would the vendor want to sell a netbook with low margins? How will this vendor convince their reseller to sell with such low margins when a little effort could get a customer with a better powered notebook with more margin to the reseller.

Why me?

Yes, it is Google. But Google has shown that it is quick to drop a product that isn’t making market sense. Look at Google Wave. See how fast it died. Or how Google flopped with its Nexus phones, especially in customer support.

You could say that was software. Google Chrome OS is also software based. Would you buy a netbook with an OS that if didn’t take off well would be dropped by Google?

You would be left with a OS with no support. To a techie, this might be fine. But to the mass market, this isn’t going to generate confidence in the product.

Google Chrome OS is a vitamin!

The Google Chrome OS isn’t going to solve anybody headache. A slow and long startup might be a headache, but in that five minutes, you could do something else that can ease the pain away.

The Google Chrome OS powered PC isn’t going to be a “must have, die for” product like cocaine which addicts will pay the sky for it.

The Google Chrome OS is, under my consideration, just a vitamin. Yes, having a Google Chrome OS powered netbooks means I have netbook running faster than yours, but you may complete your task faster than me.

Would you pay SGD20 for a vitamin C tablet to know that it will prevent you from getting a flu? Or rather SGD0.20?

The same applies for the Google Chrome OS powered netbook. The vendors might have to sell at such low price that it doesn’t make sense for them to sell it or even for the reseller market to make an effort to push it.

The Google Chrome OS powered netbook might die an early death, maybe even before the end of 2011.


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