Following reports yesterday that Chrome OS might vanish and be merged in to Android, one of Google’s chiefs was keen to defend the platform and state that it’s not going anywhere. Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chromecast and Chrome OS tweeted that the company is still ‘very committed to Chrome OS’ and that the platform as a whole is seeing huge momentum…
There’s a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) October 30, 2015
Although we believe Lockheimer’s statement that Chrome OS, in its entirety, isn’t disappearing, we do wonder where the operating system’s future lies. As Seth mentioned following Google’s most recent press event, the Pixel C premium Android tablet signals something of a shift in mentality and direction for Google. What’s more, Android is a much better platform to base a convertible tablet/laptop on than Chrome OS which is — in effect — still just a browser with some added settings and UI features.
The Pixel C is a big deal and in my opinion a big blow to ChromeOS. The C is a convertible Android tablet that keeps the squared edge Pixel look but instead of using ChromeOS, it uses Android. Why? My feeling is that Google asked themselves if a ChromeOS convertible tablet could take on Surface/Windows Tablets or the iPad Pro. I don’t think it would be close. Android on the other hand has a huge library of quality apps – though many still haven’t been optimized for the tablet form factor.
While Android is far from being the ideal operating system for large screen tablets, it’d take less effort to improve that, then it would to try and crowbar Chrome OS in to being optimized for touchscreen devices. The experience of using Chrome on a touchscreen desktop or laptop leaves a lot to be desired.
With that said, we still see a place for Chrome OS as it is now – a Kiosk-ish web experience. Chrome OS products provide an affordable way for parents and teachers to get computers in front of their kids and pupils. Businesses, likewise, can provide a cheap method of easy access to shared web-based tools and programs.
We still think we could see Chrome OS disappear from the high-end of the market in the next couple of years, as convertible products gain popularity, but it’s unlikely that it’ll vanish from the bottom tier where it’s gaining huge momentum and its simplicity is an advantage.