Chrome and Android Have Google’s Head in the Clouds

This time last year, the tech community was all abuzz with the rumors that Google was ready to put out a phone of their own.  Nicknamed the gPhone, many expected it to be their answer to Apple’s iPhone.  How surprised were we once we saw Google had bigger ambitions. Rather than focusing on just one device, they were bringing out a platform that could be run on an army of handsets.

A lot of people think that Google’s mobile agenda stops at Android.  I think that this is where it begins.  Android is just a tool to help further things at a faster rate.  The boys from Mountain View are already putting out applications for other platforms like iPhone and Windows Mobile.  Android simply takes everything that Google offers and bundles it into a convenient package.  Why download all the individual apps and services when they come preloaded on a revolutionary handset?

It’s no secret that the “cloud” is where things are headed.  No longer being confined to a desktop or laptop, people are free to access their files from practically anywhere in the world, providing an internet connection is available.  Pull up your spreadsheets, vacation photos, and favorite music all from the same device, regardless of operating system.  Google has slowly been going cloud on us for the last few years with things like Google Docs, Picassa, and Gmail.  Android is the means to the end.

Even though the rollout hasn’t quite gone as planned, Apple’s MobileMe is a step in that same direction.  Who wants to be stuck using Microsoft Outlook to pull up contacts and emails?  Nearly everyone buying a cell phone today has at least one email address that they’d like to check.  The problem is, they don’t have their entire address book memorized to pound out some emails while on the road.  Nor do they have copies of their old conversations to go through if they need to refer to something.  Gmail and MobileMe are both able to address those problems.  On top of that, Google Docs makes it easy to save, edit, or send your daily documents.  As of today, you have over 7GB of free space to store whatever files you want for easy access.  Google Calendar is there to schedule appointments, set reminders and more.  There are many apps and services that Google has been making available for other platforms and now it’s time to do it on their own terms.

By taking each of these pieces and assembling them onto a wireless device, Google is making it easier users to go about their daily lives.  There’s no need to get home so you can check your email.  There’s no need to carry around a laptop or CD with files on it so you can present the PowerPoint presentation.  Pull up the internet from wherever you are.  Sign up for $20 data plan from your wireless carrier and Android will put these things at your fingertips in a handy 3″ x 5″ device.

Chrome is the latest piece of the Google puzzle.  If you haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, I recommend downloading it.  It’s super fast, light, and shows lots of promise.  As reported earlier in the week, it’s built off of the Webkit software. Sergey Brin doesn’t have to tell you that it will be showing up on Android before long.  It might not make Android 1.0, but it won’t be far behind.

For years, Microsoft has conditioned us to go through them for software and internet.  The problem with that is that the cloud is much bigger than they anticipated.  Google saw this coming a long time back.  Slowly, but surely, they’ve been bringing the cloud to us without us knowing. Forget dropping hundreds of dollars on software that has far too many options and features that never get used.  The days of buying MS Office every two years for $300+ are gone.  Check out the free stuff and ask yourself, “Is there really anything else that I need to be paying for?”

Chrome and Android are two tools that will make that much easier for Google… and us.  Easier for Google to deploy other initiatives and easier for us to get what we need.  So if you want to be ahead of the curve, go download Google Docs, sign up for Gmail, and install Chrome today.  Google is aiming directly at Microsoft with Android as the operating system and Chrome as the browser.

Google’s not concerned with creating an iPhone killer with Android – They have bigger fish to fry.

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  1. DRUM ROLL PLEASE!! I hope they release a Mac verison soon too! I do hope that Android will be able to sync all our iTunes Library into the SDHC card.

  2. So, as a likely Android early adopter, are there any concerns that the Dream/G1 won’t be easy to upgrade as Android is developed and improved? I note that this is touch and go with other platforms, like Windows Mobile – some phones can be upgraded, others are locked. Clearly, an upgrade of the Android Browser to Chrome-Lite will be an upgrade of the memory/processor requirements.

  3. “The days of buying MS Office every two years for $300+ are gone…Is there really anything else that I need to be paying for?”

    Just your mobile data plan. That’s it.

    In honor of the offical death of the desktop, let’s all sing “Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead” from the Wizard of Oz shall we?

    “…But it’s gone now. I can sense that. No one is even afraid of Microsoft anymore. They still make a lot of money—so does IBM, for that matter. But they’re not dangerous.”

  4. As much fun as it is to tapdance on the grave of the desktop, remember that dependence on “the cloud” also means dependence on a service being accessible and up and running. Nothing worse than your cell battery dying and no longer having your directions or phone book while you are away from home (as I have learned the hard way on a few occasions). There is a lot to be said for cloud computing and I love the fact that I can access things away from home. I just wouldn’t go trading in your actual computers just yet. There is nothing worse than being dependent on some other company to get access to your stuff. I always avoided Apple and iTunes because of the level of control they exert over their branded services. I wouldn’t be interested in the same thing from Google either.

  5. I don’t feel like anyone had a stranglehold on my personal computing. I’ve had lots of choice as far as hardware and software. If anything, I feel like any stranglehold would be exerted by the company who owned the servers where all of my info resides.

    I love the idea of mobile computing and I have been using smartphones for the past 4 or 5 years because I love having access to things when I am not at home or the office. I just also like having my media server physically at home. I like having my powerful editing station at home. While I enjoy access to those things via the web and my mobile devices, I do not want all of my valuable and personal info to just be dependent on Google or Apple or Microsoft or whoever just as I want to host my own media at home rather than just streaming everything.

    Both the desktop/home entertainment center and notebook/mobile spaces are valuable and serve different purposes.

  6. When is someone going to develop a screen/keyboard combo, so you can plug your phone in and use a bigger screen? Palm had the right idea with the Foleo. The desktop won’t die anytime soon until some clever cookie comes up with a similar solution. I’d hate to be writing a 10,000 word essay on my phone ;-)

  7. Well Google is aiming at Internet domination, the same way Microsoft dominated the PC market. And just like Microsoft gave away its Internet Explorer preinstalled for free to wipe out the better Netscape, Google is now giving away the best browser, the best Email, and the best Mobile OS in the market for free.

    But the Desktop is dead? I’d say not even dying. Microsoft is still dominating the PC market and Google knows it, which is why it wants to bring the Desktop itself to the “cloud”. I’m all for the accessibility and simplicity of the Google cloud, but at a certain time in the day, I need a complex, massive, visually appealing Operating system that could satisfy my needs, like XP, Vista, and soon, W7.

  8. Rod: You can do that with a laptop or any small netbook. I do it often with my PPC and MyMobiler. Alternately, newer hardware like nVidia’s Tegra chipset will support high-def video out so you can theoretically plug it into a monitor.

  9. I havn’t done any serious programming for a very long time now but thought to share this with your readers.

    This is great but everything needs to be taken a step further. What Adnroid/Chrome needs is Google Maps/Earth mapping infrastructure, so that all GPS related applications are not reinventing the mapping side of software; they just plug into a mapping infrastructure.

    So you load your map on your phone either by GPS or address. Find and touch the building you are interested in. Get the business there and order, tickets, reservations, goods/services, appointments etc, without making a phone call. Or if you still need, get the phone number to make that call.

    Why do we need phone numbers?


  10. JerryA – not so much viewing your mobile phone screen in the same size window as the phone display, but the OS scales to the size of the display ie 320×320 on the mobile, but 1024×768 or whatever size on the monitor. There is enough processing power within mobiles for basic computing tasks that this could be accomplished.

  11. @Rod: So more like using any screen as a secondary monitor? I think the reason Foleo was a flop was because it cost as much as a PPC itself and really just extended it. I think with better hardware coming out it will be less of an issue to hook up a secondary monitor or BT keyboard. It’s more just a matter of why you would want to when you can get a used tablet PC for under $400 on ebay and a used netbook for not much more. I guess if you could just roll up someplace and hook your mobile up to a sitting monitor/keyboard and use it but I’m not sure how much demand there would be. Still, if you look at the Tegra devices being worked on, they can do full 1080p video out so that would probably be something along the lines you’re looking for.

  12. Hey Wah Bao,

    As the web page you are refering us to, is just too much for me, could you please tell us some basic details about the mystaru thing?


  13. “Desktop is dead? I’d say not even dying. Microsoft is still dominating the PC market and Google knows it, which is why it wants to bring the Desktop itself to the “cloud”. I’m all for the accessibility and simplicity of the Google cloud, but at a certain time in the day, I need a complex, massive, visually appealing Operating system that could satisfy my needs, like XP, Vista, and soon, W7.”

    That is the way Microsoft wants you to think, that you MUST have everything with you at all times! Obviously their life depends on it.

    Question: When you leave the house in the morning, do you wear the clothes you need appropriate for what it is you intend to do for the day AND bring several suit cases with you containing your entire wardrobe? No, you wear just what is required and leave the rest at home.

    So why bring every computing resource there is with you when you walk out the door ( i.e. show huge laptop computer running Vista )? I don’t need to write a “10,000 word essay” every minute of every day. My Android powered phone provides the minimum tool set I need when I am out and about.

    Same old tired FUD from Microsoft, desperately trying to lie to us all that we need Excel, Word, etc. every minute of every day no matter where we are. What a joke.

  14. Yeah, because having all your info controlled by Google is sooo much better. Your analogy about clothing sucks because you don’t just ditch your whole wardrobe because you don’t need it out with you every day. I love having my desktop at home. Running Windows. With all of my tens of thousands of music and video files. Not beholden to some ISP for access to my own stuff. When I go out I use my smartphone. I have done this for years. There is a time and a place for many things and the desktop has a very strong place in my daily activities, as does my mobile device. You seem to have something personal against Microsoft and yet you are eager to entrust all of your information with another corporation (Google). When I can DJ a party, serve up all of my media, edit my videos, automate my home, and play complex games with an Android device, then maybe I will think about getting rid of my desktop, but until then, you’re as guilty as Microsoft by trying to argue that one size fits all. Desktop is no more dead than cloud computing is worthless. They are both excellent solutions to different problems.

  15. Google is great and all, but you will never see me put a confidential document on one of their servers or send a confidential e-mail through their service. I don’t think any company serious about keeping trade secrets, or any information even slightly confidential will will use the “Google Cloud”. As for using Google Docs…. Seriously, has anyone tried to use Google Docs to edit a complex document or spreadsheet? There is simply not enough there to get the job done. Not even close! The 20% of features that I use in Excel are probably very different then the 20% of features that you use. I use VBA macros and statistics functionality, whereas my accountant uses pivot tables and various other functionality for financial analysis. Google, as great as they are have many years of work ahead of them to catch up with Microsoft in the office game.

    That being said, Google docs are good for a purpose. Editing simple papers, that are totally non-confidential.

    P.S. As “evil” as Microsoft may be, they have never made me upload my work to edit it, nor have they made me view an add to see my document!

  16. “Google’s not concerned with creating an iPhone killer with Android – They have bigger fish to fry.”

    Absolutely. In fact I don’t think Google and Apple are competing here at all – I think they are collaborating.
    I think that the big secret is that Apple isn’t aiming at applications which are developed for the native interface of the phone, but in fact pushing for Gears to be adopted as the standard platform to develop web applications for.

    The next generation of iTunes will not run solely on iPods, iPhones, Mac and Windows – it will run on the Chrome/Safari+Gears platform.

    Apple will be providing purchase, rental and subscription services for music, movies, and TV shows that live in the cloud and run on any device that has a browser that supports Gears and has a decent enough javascript engine to run these new kinds of web applications. The songs and movies that you own, or the channels that you have subscribed to, will be accessible from just about any Phone, Mobile device or Games console, or at least those that have built-in decent Gears support. And those that haven’t yet got built-in support will be falling over themselves to do so as they lose market share to everyone else who has.

    Longer blog post on this here if anyone’s interested….

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