Google has been the Goliath of search for so long it’s hard to see it as David. But now the 11-year old upstart is taking on the tech industry’s biggest giants and its weapon of choice is the smallest computer on sale.
Earlier this week Google made global headlines when it announced plans to rival Apple and Microsoft with a Linux-based operating system. Not only will it be open-source and integrated with a suite of Google products, it will also be entirely free.
Google’s main target is the netbook market. Although the little critters don’t seem like much, PC making stalwarts have admitted that without netbook sales, the market would’ve been pushed into negative numbers over recent months, so great is its importance.
Consumer demand has been strong in the boom years and stronger during the global financial crisis, so the category is constantly on the up and up.
To a user buying a $2500 computer with all the latest bells and whistles, blowing out on a $299 copy of Windows 7 Home Premium may not seem like that much.
But many netbook users balk at the idea of spending almost as much on an operating system as they would on their beloved ultra-portable computers.
To solve this, Microsoft has brought out Windows 7 Starter. A cheaper, more basic and restricted version of the main product. This Diet-Windows has attracted plenty of criticism.
Early plans to limit the number of running apps to three suffered from so much public derision they were scuttled, but plenty of other limitations remain.
Google’s Chrome OS is built on a long-established free piece of software called Linux. The key difference between the old and new offerings is simple – Google has cred with hardware makers.
Google has stepped up to the crease with HP, Acer, Lenovo and Asustek all pledging to build devices with the operating system in mind. Mobile phone chipmakers, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Freescale Semiconductor have also signed on.
In other words, Google is both talking the talk and walking the walk by bringing the key netbook players to the table.
At the very least, this will serve as a clarion call to Microsoft partners. For too long has the giant slumbered, allowing upstarts and fruit-picking Apples to pluck at market share.
With its Internet expertise and experienced board of directors, Google stands a good chance of being more than just a flash in the pan with its OS.
But most of all, Google’s willingness to see the netbook as the key could prove to be the slingshot that defeats the long-standing bully that is Microsoft Windows.