Chrome in 2013: What should we expect?
2012 has been a relatively good year for Google’s Chrome environment. They’ve managed to put on the market quite a few more interesting devices, the latest of which we’ve detailed extensively in our review, the Acer C7, bringing the price down for Chromebooks to a more than affordable $199. We would think that, if this device catches on, more similar priced ones will follow. In a sense, Chrome has been staked to be the OS of those unwilling to get huge amounts out of their pockets, unconcerned about a restrictive OS that offers little freedom, offers little in the realm of using local resources. However, when it comes to operating in the cloud, there’s no better option.
Microsoft’s SkyDrive is still a poor replacement for the complete solution that Google is offering: both application and data storage bound to the drive, password protected and ready from any machine, anytime. Instead, Microsoft, in their desire to still protect the value of their Office Suite has still to realize the full potential of taking it all inside the cloud.
On the other hand, Chrome OS and all the devices it works on are almost useless without an internet connection. There is little that can be done with Chrome offline, and, maybe, this is a point which will be reworked and expanded properly. Up until the recent update of the OS back in 18 October, the realm of actions that could be performed on suite, working with the internal files of the Chrome machines, was so limited that some people thought that no file management utility was included.
So, there are 2 points at the level of the OS that we would like to see expanded:
The local usability: At the moment, even if there are a few Chromebooks out there that are a little more powerful, the OS makes it very hard if not impossible to make use of large local data collections, and even the desktop itself proves quite tricky to navigate, still. This is true for any workloads that are more demanding; say photo editing with serious photo editing suites as well as video editing at a professional level. For these types of tasks to be performed without issues, a much more reliable OS has to be developed, one less prone to crashes, one which using few resources allows the user to take full control of the hardware. What we would like to see, but we don’t think that is going to happen is desktops running Chrome OS becoming mainstream, as the Chromebox which came out in May 29 was not too successful at achieving mass market success. To penetrate that market more thoroughly Google cannot maintain the same OS limitations, as Microsoft, Apple and even Linux installations are more mature at this point than Chrome OS.
The other point has to do with touch interfaces. Chrome OS as it is now might work great on slates, and, while Google has to protect their Android platform, Chrome OS on slates would mean actual productivity applications from Google running in a more satisfying (mobility wise) environment, Google Drive, without the caveats of interoperability. At this moment Android is bound to the ARM architecture, and that means that an on the go user has to have 2 classes of devices at all times if they use both Android apps and the Google Drive (at its maximum capacity, as limited versions of the applications bound to the Drive are available for Android devices).
Expectations that may (actually) come to be!
While to a point wishful thinking, nevertheless, we would like to see a larger number of low cost devices running Chrome. Google has to understand that, following their current politics they can’t really dent the ultrabook market, but they could very well be the next best thing in terms of resuscitating the netbook niche, almost catastrophically dominated by the slates.
There is a need for low cost netbooks, a need which we believe that the ARM Microsoft Surfaces will not be able to cover. However, if Google acts fast, we could see them dominating the market niche which Microsoft has tried to nail with their restrictive Windows 8 ARM tablet/netbook devices. What Chrome could do is prove a more flexible OS developer to cover the gap between eh inadequacies of OS and the great capabilities already in place offered by the Google Drive.
Where do you think the Chrome ecosystem is heading? What would you like to see next from Google? Let us know in the comments section down below.