Google Chrome’s strategy is based on user ads, and it is expected to gain momentum as the world of PC computing shifts to cloud computing, or a computing network of computers and digital devices.
Chrome’s share of the Operating System (OS) market is rising, thanks to it being free and coming with the free office automation tools offered by Google. Chrome’s share in the OS market has risen to the point where it is seriously challenging Microsoft Windows’ hegemony, which has been a fact of life through the last several decades of PC computing history.
According to a survey by market analysis firm NPD conducted during the Christmas shopping season, Google’s Chrome OS-installed notebook, the Chromebook, has taken a huge leap in popularity, surpassing a 20 percent share of the new notebook market.
Considering that Apple’s iOS has maintained 15 percent market share in the US and 7 percent worldwide, Chrome’s surge is astounding, almost historical.
The main reason that consumers are flocking to Chrome is its price, which is a lot cheaper than Windows-based PCs.
Chrome OS is based on cloud computing, or a type of computing that involves a large, cloud-like cluster of networked computers and other devices connected through the Internet. It can perform basic computing tasks only when it is connected through an Internet-enabled network. Chrome OS was first commercially sold in 2011 but was largely unsuccessful then due to a high price tag and limited functionality. But during the last two years, Chrome OS has come of age, as it has become more sophisticated and comprehensively upgraded.
Moreover, Chrome’s own webstore has been releasing a steady volume of software, and the sheer variety of titles, from office documentation to entertainment, has helped enhance its functionality and made it more user-friendly.
Chrome OS’s viability lies in its free, easy-to-use office applications and tools such as calendar and address book, which can be synchronized with Google Android-based smartphones. While it is now merely a terminal, an accessory to a cloud-based PC, it is expected to become more widespread when cloud computing becomes more mainstream.
Interestingly enough, Google’s business model is based on advertising revenue, and not on hardware sales. This is a characteristic that makes Chrome formidable, with insiders calling it a legitimate contender to Microsoft Windows, which relies on the sale and distribution of Windows-equipped hardware.
A PC industry source said, “Apple and other manufacturers cannot ‘unbreak’ the ball and chains of Microsoft’s influence, since they rely on sales of hardware, which is inseparable from MS Windows. But Google makes money by advertising, by focusing on the number of users clicking their ads, so to them the sale of hardware is irrelevant.” Then he added, “If anything, hardware is an advertising vehicle to be used in an extension of the whole architecture of cloud computing. That is the reasoning behind the 200 dollar price tag.”
As of now, Chromebooks are not being sold in Korea, and Chrome OS is essentially non-existent. However, Korea has a large number of smartphone subscribers using Android, so Chrome has a huge potential to make a dent in the local market if and when it is formally introduced.