Google's announcement of a netbook operating system has, naturally enough, got the blogosphere a trembling.


There have been plenty of rumours that Google one day would launch an operating system - a thought that must have give Microsoft managers the willies from time to time. Now, their worst nightmares have come to fruition and Microsoft has got competition from a serious competitor for the first time since the company's early days.

But there's a long way to go before that happens. It's generally been assumed that because Google has been successful in everything that it does, it will be good at everything and because it is sitting on a bucketful of money, then it has plenty of resources available to make Chrome OS work.

I'm not entirely convinced about this. It launched the Chrome browser beta last autumn and while the product was generally well received, it's not made much headway in the browser market - just over one percent in the browser market according to research company Net Applications - and this at a time when Microsoft IE has been losing market share to Firefox. So, Chrome hasn't got such a big brand name that users are going to flock to it through brand awareness.
Second, Google is huge and profitable but there's no bottomless pit of money. Despite confirmation of its interest in acquiring Twitter, the deal was never consummated, perhaps an indication that the price for a company that had never turned a profit was too high - Google already has one of those with You Tube.

There are other problems occupying Google. The company's Gmail service has suffered several outages to its mail service (and the accompanying Google Apps online products), something that must occupy company minds.
That's not to say that there's anything problematical about these: any company will be circumspect about how it spends its money and all companies have operational difficulties. They're mentioned only because it seems that some observers believe that the normal rules of business don't apply.

There are many questions for Google to answer How will Chrome OS sit with its Android, smartphone Operating systems, given the way that smartphones and netbooks are moving closer together? Will Google have the resources to manage so many projects - an impressive feat of ball juggling if it can? How will Google make money from a free operating system? Will Google be hit by anti-trust investigation as it stretches its tentacles further into corporate IT departments? Will it mean that netbooks could be given away by carriers as was suggested last week?

There are questions for other open source vendors too. What will mean for theme? Will they abandon their idea of getting on to netbooks? Or will they able to ride successful ly into this market on Google's coat-tails.?
But it's Microsoft that must be most fearful. Nearly 24 hours after Google's announcement, it still hasn't made a statement - its spokespeople refuse to comment on the announcement. It's a company with a lot to mull over.

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