How Google plans to rule the computing world through Chrome

You can see where I’m going with this but lets take it a step further. Have you noticed that Google recently added the Chrome App Launcher to Microsoft Windows? It’s the same app launcher that’s native to Chrome OS. And Google is working on it for the Mac platform

GigaOM

Great article by Kevin Tofel on moves Google is making—and pieces falling into place—for Google’s play on all types of computers. It’s not just about Chrome OS or having a Chromebook. They’re assembling an ecosystem for their browser that, combined, will run as if it’s Chrome OS regardless of the base OS.

Chromebooks: Not PC, Not Post-PC

Chromebooks are here and getting a lot of press, just as Netbooks did before them. But in a post-PC world the two categories have more in common than one might think.

For starters, let’s see where a Chromebook differs from the leading post-PC device:

Software

Chrome OS doesn’t approach the rich app ecosystem of iOS. This is further diluted when no Internet connection is available, as some apps require. The basics are there, but the beauty of post-PC—like the beauty of PC—is a wealth of third-party additions to make the machine “yours”. In this regard iPad’s versatility goes way beyond a Chromebook.

Privacy
Chrome OS is from Google. Let’s not pretend a primary function isn’t to gather data about you for sale to ad agencies. It lacks iOS’ easy user-controlled granularity of privacy settings per app, photo access per app, location access per app, etc., as well as default third-party cookie blocking, ability to reset device identity and more.

Hardware
Cheap hardware built to look like a “real” laptop. A major design goal is to beat out the cheapest Windows laptops while not appearing to be a tiny netbook.

Mobility
This is one of the tenets of post-PC, yet Chromebooks are bulky and heavy by any iPad standard. Further, battery life is no better than a “regular” PC notebook.

Netbooks are cheap PCs with small screens and cramped keyboards. They fizzled in the marketplace when it become clear they don’t offer the UX of a conventional Windows laptop. Meanwhile, Chromebooks are “regular” laptop size to avoid the netbook stigma, but remain cheap by ditching the PC OS for Google’s data-gathering tools.

There are many ways to cling to a familiar past while cheating the experience in an attempt to reduce cost and appear “new”. Netbooks and Chromebooks take different approaches but the result is the same: their UX is unlike the laptops they’re designed to imitate. In many ways Netbooks and Chromebooks are the ultimate skeumorphic design. Designed to look like the familiar laptop form we’ve known for 20 years, but in reality being no such thing.

If you want a laptop for its usability and legacy functions, by all means get one. Mac or PC, there are plenty of excellent choices on the market. But be realistic on either cost or functionality. If you’re not, then one way or the other you’ll be disappointed.

Android Supporters Pin Hopes on Non-iPad Competitors Because the Competitors Suck

Finding tablet-oriented apps for Android is a hunt, a chore, and a grind.…

Things get even worse when you realize Google Play shows different apps on its website and on individual tablets; even though the Google Play website claims some apps run on an Asus Transformer Prime, the apps didn’t show up on Google Play on the Prime.

And just because an app claims to run on tablets doesn’t mean it was designed for tablets. Often, after you download an app you’ll discover that it’s ugly or nearly useless because it was designed for a 4-inch screen.

via The iPad Wins Because Android Tablet Apps Suck: An Illustrated Guide.

And on and on. This is why Android supporters claiming it’ll overtake Apple in tablets are nuts, dreamers, or wading chest deep into a river in Egypt.

The Android crowd is waiting for non-iPad competitors like the Amazon Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble Nook to sell in enough quantities to claim “Android tablets” outsell iPads. Setting aside that the Kindle Fire is not even a real Android tablet, these color e-readers don’t compete against the iPad except maybe in the most superficial way. An iPad sale “lost” to one of these is something Apple wasn’t getting anyway.

Android fans will fool no one but themselves and the usual Apple bashing crowd. It’s there own private echo chamber they’re talking to.

Steve Jobs answers Android UX designer’s question

In this interview with Matias Duarte, the head of user experience for Android, I was struck by something the author observed:

“What is the soul of the new machine?” The words are emblazoned across Matias’ laptop display.

It struck me because it sounded familiar, as if that question had already been asked and answered. And it was. By Steve Jobs

In his WWDC keynote a few weeks ago, Steve Jobs said the following. “You know, if the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software in them is their soul.”

When Duarte is asked if that’s the first time anyone at Google ever asked that question, he replies: 

“I don’t think anybody ever asked about the soul,” he answers in a very matter-of-fact way, “This was my question, it was the question I challenged the team with.”

Right. Maybe the team didn’t see Jobs’ WWDC keynote. 

Ouch! Google document proposes giving Motorola time-to-market advantage for Android devices

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Here’s the text of the highlighted passage:

  • Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete

  • Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard.

Court papers confirm what most people already knew, but what some OEMs (HTC, LG, etc.) were hoping wasn’t true. Google intends to give lead time advantage to some hardware makers over others. Yes, the Motorola purchase wasn’t just about patents. 

 

Google and Motorola’s Patents [UPDATED]

The problem, of course, is that if Motorola had a savior set of patents, it wouldn’t have been one of the first targets of Microsoft. And if Motorola’s patent portfolio were really that dangerous, Apple would have settled quickly, not dragged out patent countersuits of its own. Apple settled with Nokia pretty quickly…

Everyone’s talking about the number of patents (17,000, with more in review), but not about what they cover. I suspect few of Motorola’s patents relate to modern smartphone technology or UI because Motorola hasn’t been making them for long, and they use Android.

If Motorola’s patents haven’t worried Microsoft or Apple up to now, it doesn’t change much that they’re now in Google’s possession.

[UPDATE:] This post today re-iterates my point: 

Motorola Mobility’s portfolio has failed to deter, and it has so far failed to make any meaningful headway in litigation. Motorola Mobility is on the losing track against the very two companies Google says those patents will provide protection from.

Android vs. iPhone: Is Choice Enough?

If I like Android and hate my new carrier, Sprint, I can switch to Verizon and get the Incredible. If I have an aneurysm and love AT&T, I can get the Aria. If I want a small screen, I can do that. If I want a physical keyboard, I can find a device that does that. But for iPhone, I simply would have to take whatever Apple offers and believe that their choices are right for me. I’ve chosen Apple many times and will again in the future, but I don’t think I should buy into a system that restricts my choices when another one is out there that enables my choices.

The article is a long and honest assessment of one man’s reason for switching to Android from iPhone. By “honest”, I mean it doesn’t appear to be a page-hit or iPhone-bashing piece, but rather a sincere opinion. Still, that doesn’t mean the opinion isn’t misguided, and even a little bit misleading.

A lot of the article hinges on Android’s “momentum” and how it may soon be as good as the iPhone, but that makes no sense. If being “best” and having momentum matter the iPhone leads right now. By that criteria he should be using an iPhone and, in a couple years when his contract expires, he can survey the landscape for what’s “best” again. 

The “best” argument isn’t what rankles me, however, it’s the so-called choice. Proponents of this line of reasoning—and the article adheres to it strongly—tout it as the iPhone against a mythical phone with features from who-knows-how-many handsets. No matter what feature you want, the argument goes, you have that “choice” (though it seems to ignore that the iPhone is a choice as well).

But what if you want several features? Maybe the Nexus One appeals to you, but you want a hardware keyboard. Oops. Or maybe you want the Evo, but also want AT&T. Oops again. Or maybe you want the Droid but with Apple’s App Store. Blasphemy! The point is, “choice” does not mean you get the phone of your dreams. There will be compromise. Period. At the end of the day, after the “choice” you still end up with just one phone for two years. Will that one phone—not a device imagined from features of others—be better than the iPhone (also a choice)? Will it be more or less of a compromise? In the end that’s all that matters. 

Somewhat misleading is the flippant way the author suggests that if he doesn’t like a phone he can just switch. But that’s hardly true. As a subsidized phone, once you buy it you’re in for (on average) two years. So, no, if you hate your new carrier, you can’t just switch to Verizon. Not without a hefty Early Termination Fee. Or is money supposed to be no object? Sure, you can switch after two years, maybe 18 months, but does that matter if you’ve made the wrong compromise to begin with?