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Google Operating Systems Technology

Chrome OS and Android "Will Likely Converge" In the Future 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the convergent-evolution dept.
xchg writes "When Google first announced that the company would be pursuing development of two distinct operating systems, many questioned Google's motivation. 'Google executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt, have downplayed the conflict ever since, asking for time to let the projects evolve. And a few days after Chrome OS was revealed, Android chief Andy Rubin said device makers "need different technology for different products," explaining that Android has a lot of unique code that makes it suitable for use in a phone and Chrome has unique benefits of its own. But Brin, speaking informally to reporters after the company's Chrome OS presentation on Thursday, said "Android and Chrome will likely converge over time," citing among other things the common Linux and Webkit code base present in both projects.'"
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Chrome OS and Android "Will Likely Converge" In the Future

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  • Google have the same problem as Microsoft: they're too successful. They have a river of cash flowing through the front door and an allergy to paying dividends to shareholders.

    Thus they're pursuing what I call the "spaghetti cannon strategy". They blast buckets of spaghetti up against the wall and hope that some of it will stick.

    Eventually any such company becomes large enough that it cannot coordinate what the various bits and pieces are doing. The self-cannabalising overlap of Android and ChromeOS is a sym
    • by V!NCENT (1105021) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:16PM (#30194550)

      Kernel: Linux
      WM: Chrome
      GUI kit: HTML + CSS
      Media player: Flash and OGG
      Graphics library: WebGL
      Application store: The internet with Google Gears
      Coding language: Javascript
      Backup: automatic online gratis storage

      Need I even say more? Yes;

      Chromium needs semantic file management and a better use of tabs (WM's that can only display fullscreen Windows sucks) and the ability to hook up an extrenal storage device and a one-click-offline-backup-solution and a better way to store webapps offline with Gears.

      Okey... 'nuff said. If there is anything that could on the long run kill proprietary, monoplies, vendor lockin, etc, etc. then it is Chromium.

      Not that I would make it my primary OS is the near future, but it will be installed on my netbook for sure...

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Let's take a trip down memory lane.

        Network protocol stack: TCP/IP
        Application protocols: HTTP, MIME
        File format: HTML, GIF, JPEG
        Security protocol: SSL (designed by their main competitor)
        Scripting language: JavaScript (designed by their main competitor)
        User profiling: Cookies (designed by their main competitor)

        If there is anything that could on the long run kill proprietary, monoplies (sic), vendor lockin, etc, etc. then it is IE 3. During the early browser wars, Microsoft tried to use open standards [webstandards.org] as a clu

      • Why do you need the window manager itself to display partial sized windows? They're always going to be something the browser is showing you so why not just let the browser overlay boxes instead? They seem to be doing that already, those gtalk and chat windows look like overlays.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iluvcapra (782887)

        Okey... 'nuff said. If there is anything that could on the long run kill proprietary, monoplies, vendor lockin, etc, etc. then it is Chromium.

        How on Earth would having all your applications running remote on Google Gears kill your "lockin"? If anything it makes it worse.

        • .... if you downloaded the source and made your own version of ChromeOS (PlatinumOS?) that synchs and authenticates against your own server instead of theirs..)
          • by iluvcapra (782887)

            Applications, not operating system. The whole point of Chrome OS is that it makes web applications first-class citizens, and it really doesn't ship with much of a client environment, aside from what a web browser can provide. If you use Chrome OS, the center of gravity for authoring documents is on the cloud, not on the local box.

            You can get around this, but you can do that today with Ubuntu. Chrome OS's novel merit is cloud lockin, anything else it gives you, you can already get somewhere else.

        • by V!NCENT (1105021)

          What do you mean, remote on Google Gears? Gears is a local cache 'solution', in which Gears code/tecnology/whatever creates the possibility for a webapp developer to store information on the client in terms of a SQLite database.

          Gears does other things to, like client side Javascript execution, notifications, etc.

          So what Gears comes down to is: You go to a webapp on the internet. Let's say Google Earth in WebGL with Gears support. So what happens? It will be cahsed. So next time you boot up your netbook and

    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:24PM (#30194614)
      You've just described it. If you try and manage all the R&D and ensure everything fits together and is optimised - like the "pragmatometer" in C S Lewis's dystopic NICE - you kill creativity and slow everything down. Theoretical physics - there's a lot of duplication in different universities. Are you going to set up a supercommittee to eliminate it? Congratulations, you just killed physics.

      If Google shareholders take windfall profits now and try to mature the company early, they will be killing exactly what makes it innovative. It is not in the long term interests of Google to do that. Remember long term? Before we had day traders and similar idiots trying to turn everything into a casino, we had companies like IBM that were hugely innovative and came up with things like relational databases. Real innovation requires long term commitment and a great deal of luck. You make your own luck by funding people like Cobb, or Mandelbrot, and wait for them to lay golden eggs. Can't do that if the shareholders are whining that they want all their (unearned) profits out, now.

      • by Jacques Chester (151652) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:43PM (#30194768)
        I have a feeling I will be the designated baddy for today's thread :D

        I am actually a big believer in research spending, and I think that any company with above-normal profitability is mad not to do a lot of it. But there's a difference between "research" and "entering every and all market segments you can hoping that one of them will be profitable".

        Basically Microsoft and Google are almost totally reliant on single lines of business (Office + Windows vs AdSense, respectively) for their profits.

        Because they're not paying *any* of that money to shareholders, there's no incentive to economise. More to the point, they suck up innovators and lock them up in a structure where they're beholden to internal process and not able just to say "fuck it, this idea is awesome, let's sell it!"

        Google are already turning into Microsoft on this front too. Small companies regularly out-innovate (I hate that word too) them. So Google just buys them out.

        I think that refusing to pay *any* dividend is just control-freakery. And it's bad for the economy because it encourages speculators to buy on the basis of short-term share price fluctuations. It used to be that you looked at the fundamentals of a company, then bought and held onto the shares in order to get dividends. Now you buy and flip it because paying dividends is old fashioned.
        • by maxume (22995)

          Microsoft paid a large one-time dividend a couple of years ago and pays a small annual dividend these days (yield is about 1.8%, the total payout is roughly $4 billion a year, which a little less than 1/3 of their net).

          (fiscal) 2009 is likely to be a rather soft year for Microsoft, as Vista wasn't particularly successful (it still made heaps of money), and also, the recession. It is very possible that 2010 and 2011 will be (much) better than last year.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dharh (520643)
          One small wrinkle. Most everything most everything google puts out ends up being free (and yes I consider text ads 100x more free than that bullshit we call tv ads). So Google ends up saying "fuck it, this idea is awesome, lets _give_ it away!" MS can't even compare to google at this point.
        • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

          Google are already turning into Microsoft on this front too. Small companies regularly out-innovate (I hate that word too) them. So Google just buys them out.

          It's pretty common in the tech industry to let others spend money vetting out ideas and then coming in to buy what survives the process. I suspect you would be hard pressed to find any substantially large name in IT that hasn't done this at least once. The interesting thing is that you get large enough, you find the names hedging their bets - dishing out their own R&D funds as well as simply buying other's R&D efforts.

          Incidentally, the only reason I despise the "innovate" term is because of Micros

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Seanasy (21730)

          Because they're not paying *any* of that money to shareholders, there's no incentive to economise.

          Paying dividends has nothing to do with being economical, whatever you mean by that.

          MSFT has been paying dividends for a while now. It's exactly what companies do when they can't grow much more. You'll be hard pressed to find a company that has opportunities for growth that pays a dividend. The shareholders wouldn't even want it because the potential returns from reinvesting in the company and increasing stock value are larger than the dividends. MSFT has plateaued, it's a mature company with massive m

        • Because they're not paying *any* of that money to shareholders

          Google doesn't pay dividends, but Microsoft does.

        • I think that refusing to pay *any* dividend is just control-freakery.

          I think its just a response to tax policy. Money spent on dividends directly reduces the value of stock compared to not paying the dividend, and since (but for fairly recent tax policy changes that sunset soon, and so would form a poor basis for corporate policy changes) long-term capital gains are more favored under the tax code than dividends, offering dividends is directly contrary to the financial interests of the shareholders.

    • by 7213 (122294)

      I do partly agree with you. Dividends should be paid from a "wildly profitable company", if it's in a strong long term position. That being said, and my apologies if I misinterpreted you, your attitude strikes me as a bit over the top. Dividends are gravy on the biscuit of increased stock valuation over the long term.

      Google, TODAY, is profitable but without reinvestment of this type where will they be tommorow? We as investors and a society have gone way to far in the direction of short term gratification.

      • "I do partly agree with you. Dividends should be paid from a "wildly profitable company", if it's in a strong long term position."

        Google is in just such a position. They're athwart a river of gold due to adsense. It's an enviable position. They make some money on the side from Apps, but compared to the advertising dollars it's just peanuts.

        I've said elsewhere that Google is not really a technology company, they're an advertising company. Follow the money.

        That said, where R&D has paid Google back very ha
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by farble1670 (803356)
      are you suggesting that google share holders are not pleased? huh.
    • by Ramze (640788)
      You do have a point about the apparent fragmented strategies of Microsoft and Google. (I say apparent b/c we truly do not know their master plans, so perhaps the pieces will all fall into place one day and amaze us.) However, not all big, expensive companies have such fragmented strategies and large R&D departments. Microsoft and Google are competing in areas with rapid change and innovation, so I can't blame them for trying to stay ahead of the game. Often, R&D leads nowhere... or failed product
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dirkdodgers (1642627)

      What do you mean, "the self-cannabilising overlap"?

      Android is a production product that must be stable, reliable, and operate within the constraints of consumer mobile devices today.

      Chrome OS is an R&D platform for emerging markets and technologies.

      You don't couple your production product with your R&D platform for a market that does not yet exist, unless you want both of them to fail.

      The good news for Google is that by talking so publicly about their R&D products, and giving you the opportunity

    • by abigor (540274)

      Well, you'd better get your ass to Mar-I mean Google, and let them know about your cutting-edge business analysis. What fools! If only they had your insight, forged in the fires of massive business success.

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      The top bosses seem to be very aware of both Android and Chrome OS, so I'm not sure what you are saying.
  • Which will win? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lemming Mark (849014) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:19PM (#30194574) Homepage

    I wonder if this means Android will converge towards a more standard Linux, or if Chrome will converge to become less standard. Or if they'll keep the unique aspects of each and just try to unify stuff like browser code. I don't really fancy a phone that can only run web apps, or a "PC" that can only run Java apps compiled to a weird byte code! I don't really like the way Android has reinvented all of userspace, whereas at least Chrome builds on existing code a bit more. But they are solving different problems, which perhaps explains *some* of the differences...

    • Be it ever so crumble, there's no plate like Chrome.

      Remember when Microsoft was going to converge the native Win32 (post OS/2) code base with the DOS version of Windows 3X/9X/ME? There were some very odd problems that built huge compromises to make each code tree continue to run apps. Google is getting lost in this same trap.

      Android is cute, and it's controlled as though it were a MacOS. ChromeOS isn't really an operating system, it's a semi-autonomous browser app scheme.... a bot-like appliance.

      But please

      • Google wants to force microsoft to be paired into their services, not kill them. Google has no wish to actually run the OS market, they just want to have a position that allows them to strongarm whoever does run it.

    • by HanzoSpam (713251)

      Well, in either case, it's probably a good thing for desktop Linux. Google is one of the only players in that arena that has sufficient market clout to propagate a standard, which might finally make it a viable target for commercial applications.

      I think of it as a parallel to Mac OS X - OS X may be based on FreeBSD, but commercial application vendors don't target FreeBSD, they target Mac OS, because Apple has the market share and the mind share. One of the big problems with desktop Linux has been that it's

      • Re:Which will win? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by corpsmoderne (1007311) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:39PM (#30195170)
        I don't think Chrome OS is a good thing for desktop Linux. Who will develop for an OS on which you can't install any applications ? Commercial vendors won't target Chrome OS / Linux, they will target the web browsers, and that won't have any impact on the "monoculture" problem of the desktop.
        • And I don't think that would bother Google a single goddamn bit. If the web becomes an application platform, then google's domination of many aspects of the web creates a very strong hand for exploitation of that platform.

          • What a godawful thought. Nothing makes me shiver more than the attrocity known as the web browser becoming the primary application platform. Between CSS, HTML, Javascript, DOM and whatever other blasphemous half-solutions out there, it is an abomination. It makes Java look like a tight, fast environment.

            • Nothing makes me shiver more than the attrocity known as the web browser becoming the primary application platform.

              Wake up grandpa, it happened a few years ago. Apart from a few novel iPhone apps, all the inventive mass-market "applications" in the last few years have been things you run in the browser. As web sites get brave enough to treat MSIE as legacy crap and use HTML5 goodness like SVG and the canvas, audio and video tags, the web application advances will only accelerate. Bitch all yo

              • "Groundbreaking" must be a synonym for "slow, clunky and badly rendered". Wordpad has more power than online editors.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bigngamer92 (1418559)

          monoculture problem of the desktop

          What monoculture? There's a standards compatible browser on each OS.

        • by Phroggy (441)

          Commercial vendors won't target Chrome OS / Linux, they will target the web browsers, and that won't have any impact on the "monoculture" problem of the desktop.

          Au contraire - as long as they don't target Internet Explorer, it will have a huge impact.

          There are tons of web apps out there, designed by people who know nothing about any non-Windows OS (but they've at least heard of Macs). If these people weren't writing web apps, they'd be writing desktop GUI apps. Because they're writing web apps, and because Firefox and Chrome have sufficient market share for the developers to pay attention to them, I have no trouble running these web apps on Mac OS X or Ubuntu. I

    • or a "PC" that can only run Java apps compiled to a weird byte code

      that's an implementation detail that you would only care (or even know) about if you wanted to. do you think users care about the programming language used to write the apps they use?

      • True. The short answer is that I do personally care, so it does affect my purchase decisions. The longer, wider ranging answer is that I don't think making a platform more limited for programmers is necessarily going to result in a better range of apps for the user, so it's not a strategy I want to see spread.

    • I think, Android will stay around and Chrome will die a slow death, because Android is being used in phones and Chrome is being used nowhere. Also, the battle for dominance in the (touchscreen phone that can run apps) market isn't as rough as the battle for dominance in the Linux market.
    • by mqduck (232646)

      I don't really fancy a phone that can only run web apps

      Unless I'm misunderstanding, Android is not a browser-based OS. You're perhaps thinking of Android's disallowing anything but a unique variant of Java-based applications - which is no longer the case [wikipedia.org], anyway.

      • I was more speculating on a possible convergence - Android going the Chrome way, you might say. Although it'd be a bit surprising if they dropped compatibility completely, I guess. Good to see that the native support for Android has improved, although if they're allowing native code I'm even more perplexed as to why they went the Java route in the first place.

  • Maybe they could also add an X11 server, Gtk+, and Python? Just a thought.
  • by MtHuurne (602934) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:44PM (#30194778) Homepage
    The article seems to assume Android and Chrome OS will converge into a single product. That is one possible way for converging. But another possibility is that they would be built from the same code base, but still have a different UI for different size devices.
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:51PM (#30194832)

    Google has had the foresight to cut their losses before...

    I have an Android phone. It was a gift from Google. Admittedly, it was an early version so maybe Android 2.0 looks better, but frankly when compared to an iPhone it looks like a high school science fair project. I'd rather pay for an iPhone than use the Android phone for free.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Delwin (599872) *
      You want to look at the Droid then. I've got one and while there are a few little things that I wish they would improve on the whole it's much better than any other smart phone I've used. It's core apps are far better than the iPhone, but I do miss the volume of games the AppStore has that the Android Market still hasn't caught up to yet.
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      but frankly when compared to an iPhone it looks like a high school science fair project.

      Fortunately, when compared with anything other than an iPhone, it looks pretty good.

      One problem is that, particularly in the case of the HTC phones, its being pushed out on decidedly sub-iPhone hardware that doesn't quite have the legs to do it justice. The larger screen on the iphone, in itself, is enough to swing it.

      (But I hope they fix the WiFi issues - no proxy server support and iffy automatic re-connection - and work out how a fscking "message waiting" LED is meant to work).

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      And yet the Android phones are rolling out. Go figure.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Wow, the Iphone does better compared to a phone you hate. I, and 98% of the market, choose neither...

    • by hkmwbz (531650)

      I'd rather pay for an iPhone than use the Android phone for free.

      Why? What makes the iPhone OS so great compared to Android?

  • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:53PM (#30195286)

    Both seem very limited and aimed at cellphones essentially. So it does seem they have huge overlap.

    I was hoping Chrome OS would be more functional than Android (sort of lightweight Linux replacement) but it seems the opposite. It is just a browser. Yawn.

    I really can't see the point of maintaining two cellphone "OS type" products.

    • by nametaken (610866)

      ChromeOS requires an internet connection to be at all functional. When it has that, it's useful.

      Android, otoh, has to be a more conventional operating system that can run apps and make phone calls, regardless of whether or not you have a working internet connection.

      Different tools for different jobs.

  • I'm sure Google had to promise the telcos adopting Android phones that the telcos could "own" their version of the OS. Which means releasing ChromeOS to the public, untied to a given HW platform, vendor or distributor as a "different" OS lets the telco cartel keep plodding down that smug path. Especially now, in the first few years while telcos are just gearing up to sell and support Android phones, telcos could just drop it if their monopolies seem threatened.

    But Google gets to release upgrades to each OS.

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