Ina Fried

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Gmail Founder Says Chrome OS Is DOA

The founder of Gmail (and FriendFeed) is predicting a very short life for Google’s still-in-beta Chrome OS.

In posts on FriendFeed and Twitter, Paul Buchheit said on Tuesday that he thinks Google will axe the product next year, either fusing it with Android or killing it outright.

Chrome OS will meet that fate, Buchheit said on FriendFeed “because ChromeOS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display).”

Buchheit is certainly not the first person to question Google’s dual-operating-system strategy. (Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer notably did so at last year’s D8 conference, although the soon-to-be exiting Ray Ozzie followed up that he actually sees Android as a bet for the present state of mobile while Chrome OS is a bet on a cloud-based future.)

“Yeah, I was thinking, ‘Is this too obvious to even state?’, but then I see people taking ChromeOS seriously, and Google is even shipping devices for some reason,” Buchheit wrote on FriendFeed.

Google originally hoped to have Chrome OS-based computers for sale this year, but has run into some delays. Last week, the company released a beta version of the software and distributed to testers an unbranded laptop running the operating system. However, it’s worth noting that in doing so, Google has hardly made the strongest hardware case for the operating system, using a relatively bulky netbook with a reliable, but hardly power-sipping Intel Atom processor.

The idea of merging the two operating systems has some merit. Doing so would pair a top-notch browser with an ecosystem that already has a lot of applications and developers.

For now, the operating systems are distinct, with Android running hundreds of thousands of applications and used largely on phones, along with a few tablets, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. However, Google VP Andy Rubin confirmed after his appearance at last week’s D: Dive Into Mobile that the company is working on a new version of Android, known as Honeycomb, that is geared exclusively to tablets. (The full video of Rubin’s onstage appearance was posted on our site earlier today.)

Acer and a couple of other hardware makers have said they plan to do Chrome OS netbooks next year once the software is ready.


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