Friday, 09 July 2010 12:12

The Mobile Computing and Content Wars: Part 2, the Google Response to the Paradigm Shift

This is an excerpt from part two of a multi-part series on the companies vying for dominance during the 3rd major paradigm shift in personal and enterprise technology over the last 30 years. This one will be a biggie (not smalls) and promises to create an investment behemoth out of the winner and relegate the losers to relatively niche markets. This is saying a lot considering the size of the companies participating in the battle for the pole position. I created this series to provide a truly objective, truly informed, and truly analytical (from an empirical perspective) knowledge source on this very important intersection in personal computing and distributed media. This series will end with a full BoomBustBlog style forensic report on the company we feel has the most to gain from these wars from an investor's perspective. Those who are not familiar with my hard-edged, yet objective analytical work should reference past performance and media appearances for a quick background.

It is imperative that readers first review “There Is Another Paradigm Shift Coming in Technology and Media: Apple, Microsoft and Google Know its Winner Takes All” before moving on so as to get a thorough background as to what is at stake, who the players are, and what mobile technologies are being released into the consumer and enterprise realm. This is a lengthy, meaty, objective and information packed post that was initially intended to go out to subscribers only (click here to subscribe to our research services). I welcome you to compare it to the research you find available from technology, financial and strategic advisory firms, including and particularly Goldman Sachs (click here to see what I mean, then return to this point to continue reading) and let me know whose analysis is more accurate, in depth and thorough (not to mention less expensive).

GOOGLE, INC

Summary

Despite an increasing proportionate share of licensing and other revenues, advertising will apparently continue to drive Google’s revenues in the medium-to-long term. The Company’s dominant share in the search engine market is expected to be maintained, with other competitors failing to gain the operative, technological and strategic influence to deter its pace of ad revenue growth. Of late, the Company has been initiating to broaden its revenue base as is evident from some of the recent and planned launches of newer products and services funded through revenues generated by its online ad programs

Google’s next major launches – Chrome web browser (production version), Google Chrome OS and Google TV – (expected by the end of 2010) are expected by analysts to fare much better than its Nexus One phone. However, uncertainties over consumer acceptance, pricing and technological edge of newer services offerings over competing products in the market are making it quite difficult to gauge the near-term financial impact of these launches. I would like to make it known that it appears nearly all of the financial analysts and many of the technology analysts fail to grasp the gist of Google’s phone strategy. The Nexus One was a proof of concept, proven in the market place by HTC’s Evo, which (one month after being released) is constantly sold out in nearly all retail outlets, Sprint stores, indirect retails stores, and the Sprint.com site itself. It is also the first phone that is widely accepted as not only being a credible threat to the IPhone but actually superior to the IPhone as well. It should not be lost on anyone that the IPhone is what has driven the stellar burst in Apple’s revenues, profits and mindshare over the last three years. To that end, the Nexus One, and more aptly the open sourced Android OS has proven to be a raging success.

Company Overview

Google is a global technology leader operating the leading Internet search engine, maintaining an index of websites and other online content to make information freely available through its search engine to anyone with an Internet connection. The Company derives more than 95% of its revenues from advertisement.

Business Model: Advertising revenues drives Google

The company primarily generates revenue by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising. Businesses use Google’s AdWords program to promote their products and services with targeted advertising. Additionally, third-party web sites that comprise of the Google Network use the AdSense program to deliver relevant ads that generate revenue.

At the end of 2009, Google earned $22.9 billion or 96.8% of its total revenues through advertising, out of which $15.7 billion was related to its own websites, with the remaining $7.2 billion related to other network websites.

Licensing and other revenues accounted for only 3.2% (or $761.8 million) of the total $23.7 billion revenues, at the end of 2009.

Amongst the technology companies, Google’s business model is highly dependent on traffic as compared to traditional technological businesses like that of Microsoft which are more dependent on deriving revenues through products.

As you can see, Google is basically a giant web-based ad agency. They are smartly modifying their strategy to become much more, using the healthy and ubiquitous ad agency cash flows to finance high risk/high reward ventures in a diverse, myriad array of ventures. Google may very well be the world's most prolific venture fund as well as its most profitably ad agency.


For Google:

· Advertising is not a market but a business model

· Any market that can attract advertising is a target for Google : This is clear with the Google’s latest launch of Nexus One phone (to capture mobile advertising, development and marketing partners) and plans of launching Google TV (to capture the television advertising market)

Google’s online advertising model of charging per click rather than charging on the number of displays has been a huge success, and a key driver for its increased revenues.

Moreover, to increase its advertising revenues Google is diversifying beyond its traditional search engine to newer areas including social networking, mobile phones, tablets and very soon the television.


To support its business model Google has been continuously investing in all kinds of internet infrastructures (its business infrastructure). Moreover, since traffic on Google websites depends on internet infrastructure development and availability, Google has three objectives while investing in upstream part of its value chain:

· Strengthening and securing existing infrastructure which lightens Google’s dependency on its providers

· Favouring high-speed Internet access which means more time spent, more usage volumes and increased use of Google’s services

· Prioritize Internet access for unconnected countries or populations as future web users are Google services’ next users. This means that China is an important, if not volatile and less predictable market due to political risk.

Notice how Google has directly funded all of the technologies that have converged to threaten to topple Apple's smartphone hegemony? Sprint's 4G Wimax tech, HTC's collaborative use of the Android OS and the customization of the interface through HTC Sense! Google is, and has been for the last two years, Apples biggest threat.

Though Google asserts its ability to attract users on the sole basis of its services quality and without turning to advertising, the fact is that Google largely buys traffic from providers i.e. the company uses its financial power to gain access to massive audiences – very much the way Microsoft bought market share and mindshare as the default OEM browser and OS on the vast majority of personal computing hardware sold.

Additionally, the idea of providing open source (free-of-purchase-cost) applications and software (like Android OS, Google Chrome) has also supported access to mass audiences for Google through developers and manufacturers who are looking to minimize the licensing costs associated with commercial operating systems, ex. Windows, Symbian, Palm, etc..

Key Product Launches

· Google Nexus One Phone – “Google’s Super phone” has not been a great success in terms of volume sold when viewed next to many of its competitors’ comparable products in the market: In January 2010, Google launched the Nexus One phone, an Android handset sold directly to consumers through its online store.

Though officially, Google has not released any details for Nexus One (except that it is a profitable business), according to mobile analytics firm, Flurry, numbers for Nexus’ first week sales were drastically short of sales of other smart phones during their first week. As per Flurry’s estimates, the Droid, myTouch 3G and iPhone 3GS outsold the Nexus One by a factor of 12, 3 and 80, respectively, signifying a poor pickup for the phone. This is most likely the result of Google snubbing the traditional distribution channels of the established telephone companies in the effort to create a new distribution model. This does not necessarily mean that the Nexus One has not been a success for Google, though, as we will find out below.

Analysts, too, have not very optimistic about Google’s Nexus One phone, with most of them not expecting a major push in revenues from this new launch. Having witnessed the fate of the phone in the last six months, the situation is not expected to improve for the rest of 2010 as well. Though tech websites and forums gave favourable reviews to Nexus One phone, they also highlighted that the new phone was not very different from others in the market that run Google's Android software such as Motorola's Droid. Moreover, analysts have highlighted that the Nexus One phone is surely not a threat to Apple’s IPhone.

Some key analysts views highlighting the same concerns includes:

o Citigroup never supported that the direct selling Smartphones can be a material source of revenue for the company. As per Citigroup, Google developed its own Smartphone to:

§ Help accelerate mobile search, which will increase as Smartphone penetration increases;

§ Showcase new technologies on the Android OS; and

§ Allow users to have more control over their own devices by customizing their mobile web and mobile apps (and not being governed by carrier or OEM restrictions) experiences.

Citigroup was actually on point in its observations and analysis – at least in this regard. The same cannot be said for the venerable Goldman Sachs Group.

o Goldman Sachs: “We do not view Google’s new device as a near-term threat to the iPhone 3GS as: 1) the price tag of the Nexus One does not seem aggressive enough to entice potential iPhone buyers 2) Apple’s AppStore, which has over 115K applications and over 3 [billion] cumulative downloads to date, remains far ahead of competing app platforms; and 3) internationally, Nexus One’s availability seems limited at this point, with the unlocked version only available in three countries and Vodafone’s UK subsidy not starting for a few months.”

Reggie Middleton’s View

Goldman’s analysts have COMPLETELY struck out on this one. They absolutely failed to grasp both the strategic implications and the successes stemming from the strategy behind the Nexus One, which I will explain shortly. This is also not the first time that Goldman has been so wrong on so important a topic to their retail and institutional clients. See Reggie Middleton vs Goldman Sachs, part 1 and “Blog vs. Broker, whom do you trust!”.

Though the Nexus One cell phone (launched towards the beginning of 2010) which debuted a new, web-based distribution model that didn’t gather the expected acceptance from consumers (most likely because it skirted both the influence and the marketing power of the telcos), the Company has continued to launch newer technologies and service offerings based upon the template pioneered by the relatively high end Nexus One. In addition, its open source Android OS

Google Nexus One Phone

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HTC Evo, on Sprint running Android OS

mobile phone operating system continues to gain market acceptance and has been a key milestone so far - beating Apple, RIMM. Microsoft, Nokia and Palm in handset activations for the last quarter – and the HTC EVO handset distributed by Sprint is widely accepted as the best all around handset available as well as the first handset to offer any credible challenge to Apple’s IPhone series – including the brand new, sexy but problem-riddled IPhone 4G.

The dominant player in the smartphone wars will most likely get the leg up in the closely related connected tablet computing market, which itself is bound to encroach on the wildly popular netbook and thin and light notebook computing market. Thus far (and despite the fact that Microsoft pioneered this segment 10 years ago), Apple has a very dominant lead with its launch of the IPad just a few months ago. As it stands now the mobile, always on connectedness and multimedia abilities of devices such as the HTC Evo rivals or even surpasses many low end netbook computers. Without a doubt, the most recent crop of Android powered devices (HTC Incredible and Motorola Droid X on Verizon’s network, and to a greater extent the HTC Evo running on Sprint), have shown that Google has what it takes to not only mount a credible threat to Apple’s newfound hegemony in ultra-mobile computing but potentially capture the throne.

In the following smartphone comparison chart taken from the CNET.com website (which, I might add is not only one of the most authoritative of consumer technology review sites, but is heavily biased towards Apple products, as is most of the “non-uber geek” technology sites and the general media have been since the introduction of the IPhone in 2007), you can see that the “user” rating (as contrasted by the editor’s rating) actually rates the android driven phones built by HTC higher than the recently released IPhone 4, and at dramatically lower (telco) subsidized price points.


To dig in deeper, one should peruse comment sections of each review to get a grass roots perspective of users’ loyalties, opinions, experiences and the directions of future purchases – all of which are openly given in these discussion forums. Let’s take a couple of representative anecdotal quips from the comment sections of the IPhone 4G review for the sake of elucidation.

Notice the rating breakdown (as well as the ironic, yet well placed HTC Evo ad) that has a fairly even distribution going down lesser ratings. Now to excerpt the complaints from those that gave one, two and three stars...

Notice how readers favored his review more than disfavored it.

Again, notice the readers favoring of this apparently unbiased user comment. Even more important, is the unfavorable comparison to the Android phone from HTC/Sprint/Google and the willingness to consider switching. The numerous complaints of defects in the Apple IPhone 4G show that this is Apple’s “Windows Vista” in the releasing of a product that significantly damages both market share growth and mindshare.

· Is New iPhone Apple's Vista? - Analyst says continued tech ...

Jun 7, 2010 ... It's still exceedingly tough to get a new 4G iPhone due to limited supply, and myriad technical problems persist in registering and ... www.newser.com

· Is the iPhone 4 becoming the Windows Vista of Apple? | ZDNet

Jul 7, 2010 ... Between antenna problems and app store hacks, the iPhone 4 is starting to feel like an outcast in the iPhone portfolio - kind of like ... www.zdnet.com

· iPhone 4 ... Apple's own "Vista" moment in history | ZDNet

What if Microsoft bought out a product where you had to spend $30 on an accessory to make it work right and stop is from breaking?” www.zdnet.com

The mere association with the Android OS has helped an obscure Taiwanese company to become a dominant power in the smartphone wars and has literally put Sprint back on the map as a telco to be reckoned with. HTC has become the fourth-largest maker in the world, helped by its connection to Android and largely by its superior build quality, innovative and rapid R&D implementation, and largely by its ability to superimpose practical user interfaces over outdated (ex. Windows mobile) and geeky (ex. Android) mobile operating systems through its Sense UI widgets that enable it to compete and/or arguably best that on offer by Apple’s newest IPhone.

One anecdotal, but highly telling occurrence is the rise of the Android “fanboi”. Apple has created a literally cult following behind their products which has enabled a level of price elasticity and stickiness that has been heretofore unseen since Windows released the Windows 95 version of their graphical OS. No other handset manufacturer or OS producer has even been able to come close, until the v2.1 release of Android on these mega-capable handsets. This “Fanboi” following is actually rooted in the software development community, where such a following truly counts in terms of getting mass amounts of product to market, ex. The Apple App Store...

As the pre-eminent search destination on the Web, Google has the ability to gather significant mindshare amongst certain product categories. Among those categories are web apps, which Google attains by purchasing promising young entrepreneurial companies and backing them with the resources and reach of the Google umbrella. Two such web apps, Google Voice and Google Docs, have the potential to give Google a significant edge in the smartphone and upcoming tablet wars.

Google Voice can be considered the “killer app” for 2010, for it enables web-based telephony with a host of features currently not available from any telco carrier, and all of the features (save long distance calling) are free to the end user. From Wikipedia:

Google Voice is a telecommunications service by Google[1] launched on March 11, 2009. The service provides a US phone number, chosen by the user from available numbers in selected area codes, free of charge to each user account. Inbound calls to this number are forwarded to other phone numbers of the subscriber. Outbound calls may be placed to domestic and international destinations by dialing the Google Voice number or from a web-based application.[2] Inbound and outbound calls to US (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Canada are free of charge.[3] International calls are billed according to a schedule posted on the Google Voice website.

The service is configured and maintained by the user in a web-based application, styled after Google's e-mail service, Gmail. Users must have an established US telephone service to activate Google Voice. Users must configure this and optionally, additional phone numbers that ring simultaneously when the Google Voice number receives a call. The user may answer and receive the call on any of the ringing phones. Google Voice provides additional features such as voicemail, call history, conference calling, call screening, blocking of unwanted calls, [call recording] and voice transcription to text of voicemail messages.[4] Received calls may be moved between configured telephones during a call.

Needless to say, Google Voice is tightly integrated into the Android OS, and is banned from the Apple app store.

Google Docs is an app that we use at BoomBustBlog to disseminate fairly complex live spreadsheets. It has roughly 45% of the functionality of the desktop version of the Microsoft Office Suite, via a truly portable, collaborative, web-based interface with cloud storage. Although available to Android OS devices in read only format only, it is a sure bet that v 3.0 of Android will have full access to this office suite in an attempt to compete with the Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 OS which will feature full integration with the cloud capable Office 2010 suite of productivity apps, which happens to be the wide spread, and ubiquitous industry standard.

  • Google TV – An attempt to capture a share of ~$70 billion television advertising market – the product is expected to be launched by end of 2010.

Google recently announced the launch of Google TV towards end of 2010. Its key features include:

o It is an Android based software platform that will place a Chrome browser on connected televisions, enabling television viewers to search for content directly from the Internet or from more traditional sources such as television networks, cable, or DVR-saved programming.

o It is also expected to provide applications like Picasa, Flickr, Pandora, or gaming sites by early 2011. Google TV is also expected to support Adobe Flash 10.1 – helping subscribers to have access to almost every online video, web game, or social network application on the Internet with particular support for services such as YouTube, Twitter, Netflix, and Hulu. Android Mobile OS v 2.2 will also feature this Flash compatibility, revealing a concerted cooperative effort between Adobe and Google to attempt to create a pressure point in Apple’s refusal to allow Adobe’s Flash content to run on its popular IPhone and IPad operating systems. This gambit very well may pay off if the consumer experience upon playback is satisfactory. This will bode ill for Apple considering the current IPhone backlash and the presence of the arguably technically superior technically superior HTC Evo.

o Google has already formed partnerships with Sony, Logitech and Intel to create hardware that will run the Google TV platform.

o For its distribution of Google TV, the company has tied up with Best Buy which will showcase the Google TV functionality in its 1000+ stores.

Financial Analysts View

Financial analysts are still waiting for more details of the service and are cautious as the IT industry is littered with previous web TV failures

o Financial analysts view this offering as a strategy to capture ~$70 bln television advertising market. However, for now they are largely biding their time before deciding if Google TV will live up to its buzz, given the number of unsuccessful efforts in the past.

o Moreover, price of the service and related hardware costs is another key factor which analysts are waiting for, as it will be a major consideration for consumer adoption.

According to Susquehanna Financial Group, “We view Google TV as a strategy to capture a share of the ~$70 bln television advertising market. While we are optimistic about Google TV’s longer term potential, we do not expect the near-term impact to be meaningful given potential challenges with consumer adoption, technology integration, and competition”.

In its May 2010 report, the Group has highlighted that Google TV’s technology features, its partnerships with Sony, Intel and Logitech and Google’s distribution partnership with Best buy, will act as a positive factors for the Google TV launch, while consumer adoption, past failures of internet based TV offerings, any technological incompatibility and willingness of studio-owned sites to share their content on Google TV, will remain near-term challenges.

Technology Analysts View

Technology analysts have given Google TV offering thumbs up, though some believe good execution remains the key.

o Technology analysts believe that the chances of success for Google TV are much higher than similar internet TV applications launched previously, owing to better technology, higher internet penetration and better online video content now, which is likely to support better customer adoption

o Moreover, Google’s partnership with leading hardware suppliers including Sony and Logitech further enhances the branding and quality of the Google TV service.

o Though the service is technologically advanced, proper execution from marketing to distribution to customer support will be a key driver for the success of Google TV.

According to Forrester’s James McQuivey, Google's goal is to get into the TV advertisement marketplace, eventually appropriating a healthy chunk of the billions in advertising that flow to and through the TV.

On the possibility of Google being unsuccessful as previous internet TV attempts, he strongly disagrees, “Yes, it's hard, yes it has been tried before, but no, Google TV is not in the same situation as Roku, VUDU, Boxee, or even Apple TV. Google TV is different; it's more ambitious yet more likely to succeed. First of all, timing matters. With broadband penetration at two-thirds of US households -- higher in many European and Asian markets -- and with home networks in more than a third of US homes, the base layer of high-speed connectivity to and in the home can support Google's ambitions. Plus, there's enough content online between YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix, to make it worth the bother of connecting the TV (which, by the way, is why nearly 10 million homes in the US connect their PCs to their TVs to watch that content today, so Google's asking us to do something millions of us already do).”

He further believes that the success of Google TV as a whole is not a mere combination of content and technology but also Google's list of partners is what makes this worthy of consideration, “More to the point, it is Sony's involvement that will cause everyone else to accelerate their own efforts. Competing TV makers will sign up by the end of the year, mark my word. Cable companies will speed up their TV Everywhere solutions to ensure that they don't get pushed to one side. Most of all, Apple itself will have to respond.”

Digital Media Analyst, Ralph Schackart of William Blair & Co, believes evolution of the smart TV is intended to convert consumers’ big screen high-definition televisions into giant monitors for surfing the Internet. He views Google TV as a platform which will enable premium movie sales from many third-party stores such as Amazon VOD. Moreover, Google TV could help studios to deliver less expensive (higher margin) VOD (video-on-demand) movies directly through connected TVs, taking market share away from Redbox and Netflix.

Reggie Middleton’s View

Overall we view Google TV as a technologically advanced offering that has the potential to make a big change in the way television is viewed, if all claimed features reach the consumers and the company is able to meet the near-term challenges including:

§ Competitive Pricing: By marketing Google TV to consumers at a price point that supports faster adoption

§ Access to a wide range of Online Content: By making available all the online video related content freely accessible to its subscribers, i.e. making sure that key studio-owned sites such as Hulu don’t block access through Google TV (although they will be forced to compete with sites such as Amazon VOD [currently capable of producing a very wide variety of on demand HD content] and Netflicks) and;

§ Proper Execution: By providing best quality services with sustained customer support and maintenance.

Moreover, though the opportunity looks very promising over the long-term, it’s difficult to gauge its financial impact until Google comes up with more details of its service, primarily the pricing, distribution and customer support. I am bullish on the strategy as whole, for the web-based delivery of video, textual, interactive, social and associated rich media content easily has the potential to double Google’s ad revenue. It would be very difficult for Apple to mount a reply with such a large competitive advantage, although Microsoft’s ubiquitous presence in the home computer as well as the Xbox may be closer term threat.

Google Chrome OS

A cloud computing based operating system made for targeted net-books and tablets – expected to be launched by end of 2010.

Google announced Google Chrome OS in July 2009, and is expected to launch first Chrome OS net-books by late 2010. Chrome OS key features include:

o It is an open source operating system targeted at net-books, and will only be available through specific hardware designed for its use.

o It’s based on Linux with multiple VBs (virtual machines) and will have user interface similar to the Google Chrome browser.

o The key advantage of the Chrome OS net-books is that they will not have traditional hard disk drives and will rely on non-volatile flash memory and internet-based storage (cloud computing) for saving data. All applications on a Chrome OS net-book will be web-based, i.e. users will not need to install applications, manage updates, worry about viruses or even backup their data. All data will be stored in the cloud and Google claims it will monitor code to prevent malicious activity in the Chrome OS web applications.

o Moreover, with a strong focus on speed, the Chrome OS promises nearly instant boot times of about 7 seconds for users to login to their computers. Google Chrome OS is being designed with a focus on users who spend most of their time on the web, and is expected to power computers ranging from small net-books to full-size desktop systems.

Acer and HP are already tied up with Google to launch net-books with Chrome OS. Though, there is no official announcement, news about talks between Dell and Google are making rounds, and Dell could become the third manufacturer to launch Chrome OS based net-books.

Financial Analysts View

Since Google Chrome OS is an open source offering it is not expected to add substantial revenues directly, however, over the long-term if the offering becomes successful it can have a significant addition to revenues indirectly through advertisement revenues. Thus, financial analysts are not expecting a near-term impact on the company’s revenue owing to the launch of Chrome OS.

Technical Analysts View

Analysts have mixed views on the Chrome OS, considering its completely new technological approach which is based on cloud computing, and which will be a totally new concept for most of its users

o Many analysts believe that they need to see more of Chrome OS before they can formulate an opinion on it compared with Microsoft Windows which currently dominates the operating system market. Moreover, considering a very loyal and “used to” user base for Microsoft Windows, establishing a preference for Chrome OS looks to be a challenging task.

o Some analysts are of the opinion that operating system is a not a very important consideration for most users and Google’s announcement of this new OS will not have a significant impact on Microsoft’s position

§ IDC analyst Al Gillen commented, “Consumers don't think about operating systems when they go to buy computers. From my point of view, this is nothing more than a shot that Google is firing at Microsoft. This is one bullet of many that they will fire. They have a long ways to go with what they announced."

o Others believe that the product has potential to give significant boost to the nascent cloud computing market as Google seeks to extend its Web search and Web services across the Internet [Bingo!].

o One key advantage that Chrome OS may have over the Windows powered note-books is the price. While Windows increases the price of every computer it comes installed on, Chrome OS is open source, thus will not increase the cost of the machines it powers, thus could be an attractive alternative to Windows-based computers at least on the price front.

o Analysts believe that though it’s difficult to convert large enterprises who want high level of data security to cloud computing platform, the Google OS may lure more small and midsize businesses to move toward an enterprise software solution in "the cloud" and away from Microsoft Windows.

o As excerpted from Wikipedia:

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Market implications

o When Google announced the Chrome browser in September 2008, it was viewed[36] as a continuation of the battle between Google and Microsoft ("the two giants of the digital revolution").[37] As of December 2009[update], Microsoft dominates the usage share of desktop operating systems[37] and the software market in word processing and spreadsheet applications. The operating system dominance may be challenged directly by Google Chrome OS, and the application dominance indirectly through a shift to cloud computing.[37] According to an analysis by PC World,[38] Google Chrome OS represents the next step in this battle. But Chrome OS engineering director Matthew Papakipos has noted that the two operating systems will not fully overlap in functionality. Users should be aware that Chrome OS hosted on a netbook is not intended as a substitute for Microsoft Windows running on a conventional laptop, which has the computational power to run a resource-intensive program like Photoshop.[5]

o Some critics have predicted the market failure of Chrome OS. Tony Bradley writing for PC World in November 2009 said: "We can already do most, if not all, of what Chrome OS promises to deliver. Using a Windows 7 or Linux-based netbook, users can simply not install anything but a web browser and connect to the vast array of Google products and other web-based services and applications. Netbooks have been successful at capturing the low-end PC market, and they provide a web-centric computing experience today. I am not sure why we should get excited that a year from now we'll be able to do the same thing, but locked into doing it from the fourth-place web browser."[39]

o By April 2010, reports were mixed regarding hardware manufacturers' interest in building Chrome OS devices. Kevin McLaughlin of ChannelWeb reported that "Chrome OS isn't on the radar of system builders to any great extent". Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at Intel whitebook partner ASI, said that the company's "salespeople aren't getting a lot of inquiries about Chrome OS from customers, and they haven't even heard of anyone asking for it". But Ryan Paul of Ars Technica reported that "Chrome OS is maturing and gaining the support of prominent component makers and device vendors" and noted that Samsung, Nvidia, and Qualcomm were all actively involved in Chrome software development.[40][41]

Reggie Middleton’s View

We believe that though Chrome OS will not have a substantial impact on the company’s revenues as it is an open source offering, if successful it can indirectly contribute through higher advertisement revenues and directly (as well as dramatically) increase licensing fees for Google Web-based applications and associated cloud services, ex. Google apps, cloud storage, etc.

o However, we also believe that more details need to be out before we can fully judge the success of Chrome OS, like the price at which the Chrome OS net-books/tablets will be launched, and the potential of subsidies driving that price point to zero, which is one key factor that can break the loyalty of Microsoft Windows users. The ability to give away an IPad like computing tablet or free with the purchase of an HTC Evo-like device (which could be used to wirelessly connect the tablet or netbook to the Web) with virtually unlimited storage capacity (as opposed to being constrained to 32 or 64 or even 128 GB would be a very, very strong incentive for many to migrate from Apple and Microsoft products to that of Chrome and Android based systems.

Additionally, considering the current details that are disclosed about the Chrome OS, it suffers from a key limitation that it will only be available through pre-installed specific net-books (which will be compatible with the Chrome OS), and thus will limit the circulation of the operating system to users who are willing to buy a new net-book. The very active developer community surrounding Android will probably mitigate this problem in near real time, with after market hacks and rom flashes, freely available for download, and eventually a business may develop out of it. See XD Developers website for evidence on how quickly programmers have upgraded and improved upon Android software, making it virtually impossible for Apple, RIMM, Palm and to a much lesser extent, Microsoft to keep up. As explained in Wikipedia, XDA is a community of over 2,011,000 users worldwide. The site's main purpose is discussion of Windows Mobile and Android phones. Controversial in nature, they are also one of the first places that Windows Mobile users come for information, ROM upgrades and technical support. Separate forums exist for each model of phone manufactured by HTC and are known by their internal HTC code name. There are many "chefs," which are individuals or groups that custom code their own ROM images. You can access the XDA developers website here, where in just one month they have provided users of the Sprint HTC Evo with 54 FPS video, Adobe Flash 10.1 capabilities without the Froyo Android 2.2 OS upgrade, free wifi router/hotpsot capabilities through rooting (which Sprint is very unwisely attempting to battle them on in the pursuit of incremental revenue and control over the OS, the exact antithesis of the open source concept – Sprint should take the cue from Microsoft and back off, letting the developer community perform the key upgrades and turn the OS viral), and soon high fidelity audio quality in the recording of 720p HD video, which should also max out at a higher frame rate than shipped as OEM.

Next up is Apple, then Microsoft, then HTC - with a finale of a forensic analysis of one of these companies that will blow your socks off!

Last modified on Saturday, 10 July 2010 11:47