Last night at 9:30ish, Google announced a new free operating system based on its Google Chrome browser, called Google Chrome OS. Michael Arrington is patting himself on the back for having predicted that Google would do such a thing back in the ancient times of 2008 when we all already knew that this was the path Google was headed down. I mean, sure, the Register disagreed with him, but newsflash: The Register is often contrarian. This was really a no-shit-sherlock prediction, sorry, Michael.
However, it’s interesting to think about how predictions like these work and keep returning as rumors until eventually they come to fruition. It’s like the iTablet rumor that keeps cycling around Apple. Eventually, Apple’s going to look at the numbers and say “well enough people have been clamoring for this since 2000 and now it looks like it would make sense for our market strategy and the cost can be minimized” etc etc, and actually make one of these. Maybe.
To give you some perspective, back when I was lead blogger for TUAW and Weblogs, Inc. was pre-AOL buyout, Jason Calacanis used to regularly blog about how he believed Google was going to come out with an office suite (they did) and how that would be followed by a Google OS. For example, in this post from 2006, called GooglePC with GoogleOS he notes: “Eric Schmidt told me to my face at CES last year that they would never do an Office Suite–which of course they did.” Then he predicted: “The Google OS will come out in 2007, and in 2008/2009 the Windows upgrade cycle will be ankled.” So he was a little ahead of the curve with the prediction. Jason is regularly ahead of the curve with such things. I think he’d been blogging about GoogleOS since 2004, but I cannot find his first post about it (most likely because of the whole calacanis.weblogsinc.com to calacanis.com domain name switcheroo).
However, in 2004, Jason Kottke wrote a post called GooOS, the Google Operating System, that basically talks about how Google was then in the process of building a huge operating system in the cloud (though this was before we were using the term “cloud” to discuss all those servers out there with data floating about in them), and Kottke’s post is really just his thoughts and commentary on this previous post called The Secret Source of Google’s Power by Rich Skrenta. UPDATE: Kottke wrote a new post juxtaposing GooOS and Google ChromeOS.
In any case, I just thought I’d do a little backtracking through some of the highlight posts from people I read regularly discussing the Google OS. We’ve all been discussing it for at least five years and its been a floating, returning theme of our big online conversation. TechCrunch’s prediction was a safe bet and nothing to pat its back over, although doing so publicly and loudly is expected from TechCrunch as it’s a good bit of self-branding as a grand prognosticator and an excellent bit of self-promotion.
And hopefully that will be my last post “picking on” TechCrunch for a while.
As for my thoughts on Google Chrome OS: I can’t wait to try it out on my Asus Eee PC 4G. I don’t think it will grow to challenge either Microsoft or Apple though. As I noted earlier on Twitter, “2 Chrome OS problems: 1. will tip them into a hot bed of anti-monopoly probing. 2. Google does too many things at once & only a handful well.” There’s my set of predictions for what they’re worth (which as with all predictions, isn’t much).