Although a niche offering today, the open source Chrome OS is likely to follow Android's success -- so IT decision makers should plan on evaluating Chrome OS-based devices for at least some portion of their user base in the next 12 to 18 months.
As PC World's Ian Paul reported earlier this week, Dell revealed it intends to use Chrome OS as the basis for future offerings. Details surrounding Dell's Chrome OS plans and, more important, Google's offer to PC makers are still murky at best. However, it's likely that Google will follow much of the same game plan as it did with the mobile Android OS.
"Less than free" for PC makers is difficult to ignore
Most InfoWorld readers are aware that the open source Android OS is provided royalty-free to device manufacturers. However, Google goes one step further: Device manufacturers are actually paid to adopt the operating system. VC Bill Gurley explains Google's offer to mobile device manufacturers:
That's right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS. I like to call this the "less than free" business model. This is a remarkable card to play. Because of its dominance in search, Google has ad rates that blow away the competition. To compete at an equally "less than free" price point, Symbian or Windows Mobile would need to subsidize. Double ouch!!
I would be surprised if Google doesn't provide a similar offer for PC manufacturers to encourage the delivery of Chrome OS-based devices.
But Google is unlikely to stop there.
Google's super weapon: A Chome OS/Google Apps combo
After the operating system itself, most IT buyers focus on is choosing an office productivity suite that meets their business needs and employees' skills. And that's where Google can go further.