Deciphering the Google Way to Cloud Computing [An Analyst View]
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Saheed Adepoju, Co-founder & CEO of Encipher Group where he shares insightful analysis into Google’s possible strategy towards merging the recently unveiled Chromebook with android-powered devices. He argues that Google will not kill the android ecosystem with the Chromebook and further provides insights into the Google way to Cloud Computing. The post was first published on the Encipher Group website and flags off a series of sponsored posts from Encipher.
At the just concluded, Google I/O, something fascinating was unveiled, the Google Chromebook. According to their website, Chromebooks are built and optimized for the web, where we all already spend about 90% of our time. It would be available from June 15th in stores around the world.
It is believed that Chromebooks would destroy Windows powered laptops and change the way we do our computing, I couldn’t agree more but from an entirely different perspective.
It has also been said that Chromebooks might destroy the Android ecosystem and its advances and ultimately the Android tablets. Well, I simply don’t agree. Why? Because I don’t think a company as big as Google would allow their products to kill each other or at least have seen that they might be a clash in the future of both innovative thinking.
In one of such discussions that Chrome is going to kill android, it is said that Google may scale back its android development because of Chrome. Although this was way back in 2009, I still think that most industry experts still believe that end users still need to choose between both platforms.
However, this year’s Consumer Electronic show (CES 2011) gave rise to a seemingly interesting product which most industry experts may have missed: Motorola Atrix 4G.
From the specifications, it feels seemingly decent but the real deal with the Motorola Atrix isn’t the phone but the Laptop dock accessory. The beauty about the dock is that it is powered by the Atrix’s Tegra-2 processor which is a dual-core 1Ghz processor. When docked, it charges the Motorola Atrix and launches a tiny kernel within the laptop Dock and this mode is called Webtop mode. It has generated a lot of buzz and interests amongst tech savvy geeks and also corporate executives who want a phone laptop combo without the risk of losing anything if both devices get missing.
Google, I believe is going to build a combo just like the Motorola Atrix and its laptop dock. It would eventually be Android powered Chromedock devices. Since Android 2.4 (codenamed: Ice-cream Sandwich) is said to be the end of android fragmentation and the merging of tablet experience and the mobile experience, unifying it brings developers some relief as they would just end up coding once and the experience is shared across multiple devices. I believe this is simply the beginning of Google unveiling their ultimate product line up yet, the unification of Android Ice-cream sandwich and the Chromebook.
The Chromedock essentially would be no different from the Motorola laptop dock. Both are powered by a tiny Linux kernel, both run applications within a browser, Firefox for Motorola and ChromeOS for ChromeDock. So I believe the upcoming Tegra-3 chip (quad-core based) would be an interesting mix to the entire deal as I believe that future Chromebooks would spot a dock-like feature which would allow Android ICS be docked and access all your contacts, applications via the Chrome browser and allow a user switch between Android-mode & Chromebook mode. In the end, it would be beautiful to fully live in the cloud as described by Google.
Since Google already has a solid move in it ChromeOS venture and partnerships with ACER & SAMSUNG, I believe these partners can develop ChromeDocks for future Android-powered phones. In the end, ACER, SAMSUNG and others would release Android-powered phones to work respectively with their ChromeDocks stations. Even Encipher would jump on this bandwagon.
What’s the future like?
Google’s strategy is to take over cloud computing not just via services but control the hardware and also certify such hardware. Their ultimate strategy isn’t really to kill the laptop PC running windows OS but to take over a budding cloud computing enterprise where industry players are yet to really make a big dent. In a bid to win the race for social, which Facebook currently dominates, they are creating hardware to help them connect to this social experience and monetize via it. I believe with such integration, Google kind of puts a dent in the social media experience in being able to integrate your social experience on a mobile device and ChromeDocks.
This also appeals to enterprises as Google has almost any services that are done in premise. Their Google Apps & Google Apps marketplace has a plethora of applications that can compete with Microsoft anytime. Apps ranging from Google enterprise mail to ERP solutions. And this list is endless. Some are free while some are on a rent basis which allows one to ensure ROIs immediately rather than spend so much and wait for ROIs later on during the quarters.
Microsoft also has a cloud strategy for its products and also gaining recognition but with its slow pace within the tablet market and the mobile space, in the end a combo like a Android powered Tegra-3 device and a ChromeDocks might eventually slow down their pace in being king in such a thriving and bubbling space. This futuristic move might as well kill Microsoft in the enterprise market space where it is currently king. Although I strongly believe Microsoft office is still a killer reason why anyone would stick to Windows for a long time to come.
This also would eat deeply into other ERP solution providers like SAP and Oracle as all infrastructures would be hosted by Google and small start ups can compete with the big boys in terms of scalability without breaking the bank.
What’s in it for developers?
This could be a dream come true. Java’s inspiration as always been, “Write once, run everywhere”. Everywhere refers to any platform be it SPARC, INTEL etc. I believe with Android ICS + ChromeDocks, it would really be a true “Write once, run on every device”, every device being Tablets + Mobile + PC (Chromebooks, Windows, Linux), Apple (via Safari).
Developers wouldn’t need to boot different operating systems to build innovative programs anymore as there now cloud-based IDEs (e.g. Cloud9) which allows developers build and execute web apps straight from your browser. This would enable developers build scalable applications and test on Google App Engine instantly and test it out on the mobile for mobile phones, tablet via the tablet features of ICS via the Chromebook interface emulator for Tablets and finally on Chromebooks itself for a browser feel. Also remember, the Google web-based IDE for Android development (App Inventor) which allows building Android apps straight from your browser to the docked Android phone and tested straight from the ChromeDocks interface for mobiles all courtesy of the power of the ChromeOS.
What’s in the bank for Google?
At the end of the day, this has to translate to revenue for Google. As always, they have been generating revenue from search since inception and I believe it would be no different. Now that they certify both products (Chromebook & Android ICS), I believe they would invade users with ads (though in a positive way).
Interestingly, Chromebooks (ChromeDocks) could have a segment to the right-hand side with interactive HTML-5 ads which changes when a user searches for results. When a phone is docked, it instantly displays relevant apps from the market place which a user may choose to install directly on the docked phone and either played via the ChromeDocks or when the phone is undocked.
With YouTube having a lot of user-generated content and now trying to gain Live-TV attention, your bet is as good as mine. Youtube may replace your TV which in turn translates to more revenue for Google. It would be cool to have HDMI outputs from the ChromeDock to your TV and allows the user watch TV comfortably and use Bluetooth keyboard/Mouse to control the ChromeDocks (with phone docked) and can interact. Adverts would be streamed and played for the user based on interests all stored up in the cloud.
What’s fishy about all these?
It all sounds good and fun, until a breach happens someplace and it dents our happiness. The recent SONY PLAYSTATION breach is a classic example. A lot of enterprises still love on-premise computing as they can safe-guard their data and also prevent exploitation from cloud infrastructure. Google must be able to ensure secured data and also timely delivery of critical transactions whilst using cloud-based applications.
Would Google keep their integrity and maintain their mantra? The mantra “Don’t be evil” has shaped them to become a world-class company but occasional breaches such as the Google Street cars snooping of Wi-Fi passwords can dent such integrity especially since a ChromeDocks + Android combo would highly depend on such integrity. However, Google has been a kind company in admitting to such mistakes and I believe they genuinely admit when they cross lines that breaches their motto.
Ok, I love the idea of outsourcing all my on-premise computing infrastructure to the cloud but what in the world do I do if Google cloud infrastructure goes off for a few hours? I sit and hope they fix it. There have been outages even from the masters of cloud infrastructures. Amazon, Microsoft and Google occasionally report outage and end up apologizing. I believe we cannot dodge this fact since we are talking about computers running the infrastructure. They break down, parts needs to be replaced; OS needs to be upgraded etc. However, I believe Google in time would master the loopholes and provide incredible failovers for such outages. Only time will tell.
Well, for most part of North America and some other parts of the world, this isn’t an issue but writing from Nigeria and being part of a budding enterprise here, it is a heavy concern. How would a thriving startup here plug into such an innovative idea without decent broadband? They can’t. However there is hope, with more cables landing, I believe the prices would go down much further producing more competition and faster speed. It is also good that it is happening now so when the combo hits, we would be able to enjoy the innovation as well within Nigeria.
I hope I have been able to shed more light into what I believe might be a strategy Google might employ to marry both Android ICS + Chromebooks into what I have termed (Android ICS + ChromeDocks). Disclosure: I don’t work for Google so these are entirely my own insights and forecasts for a thriving cloud computing industry.
I believe strongly that Google I/O 2012 would be a very interesting one for Android + Chromebooks. They might even be giving away the duo for free. Either way, I hope to participate at Google I/O in 2012.
Saheed Adepoju is the Co-founder & CEO of Encipher Group, a software development company based in UK and Nigeria with expertise in ensuring that products and services are always available on the “cloud”, regardless of platform or device.
Image via: Reuters
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