Those of you who, like me, were eager to get your hands on the free Google CR-48 netbook but never received one are in for some disappointing news: Google has concluded the pre-beta phase of their Chrome OS testing. While “pre-beta” is a lovely technical way to put it, another equally accurate way of stating it would be “the phase in which Google gives away millions of dollars of netbooks to testers.” In either case, Google is ready to move the project forward.
Sundar Pichai, Google VP of Product Management, was the first to break the news. As with many breaking stories in the 2010s, the announcement happened through Twitter, where Pichai stated “Sorry we have shipped all units for now [sic].”Pichai also informed the press that this decision was in preparation for pushing product development forward for commercialization.
The end of the giveaway may be sad for those who missed out (like me), but it’s hardly unexpected. After all, the announcement that the first Chrome OS-powered netbooks will be going on sale this summer is entirely in line with earlier predictions, both from inside and outside of Google. While the specs of these netbooks are unknown, we do know that Acer and Samsung will be the first two manufacturers working with Google on this project.
It’s difficult to say how well this project will work for Google. After all, netbooks as a medium are beginning to decline, with tablets cannibalizing a good portion of their potential market. Further, since the Chrome OS is restricted to web apps only, the functionality of most tablets will be on par with Chrome OS systems. The primary differences will be in the hardware sector (we can presume that the netbooks will have slightly more oomph) and in the actual form (netbooks will be preferable to those who like the keyboard and touchpad more than the touchscreen environment). But will it be enough for the Chrome OS to survive?