If Google is planning to launch a tablet device in the near future, it should bypass its embryonic Chrome OS and instead go with Android, the company's other mobile operating system that's taking the smartphone market by storm.
Google, of course, hasn't announced plans to introduce a Chrome OS-based tablet. But a report this week from tech news site Download Squad predicted that Google-branded Chrome slate could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.
Hopefully, the report is false. If it's true, Google should rethink its strategy. Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system that stores all of a computer user's applications and data online, is a bit too fanciful for today's mobile-Internet reality...which isn't always reliable.
"Chrome OS was developed for highly and persistently connected devices," says IDC mobile analyst Susan Kevorkian. "In that context, the device and the operating system are highly reliant on a dependable connection. But the reality for many consumers today, even with mobile broadband, is that connectivity isn't as reliable as we'd like it to be, either for Wi-Fi or mobile broadband."
Android, by comparison, is a more pragmatic solution for today's wireless world. "Android is the most viable media-tablet operating system to compete with Apple's iPad. It has many of the right elements, including an app store associated with it," says Kevorkian, who adds that IDC's conversations with mobile device vendors indicate that Chrome OS isn't a viable option for today's tablets.
"We think it would be wiser for Google to pick its battles and put all of its chips behind Android at this point," Kevorkian adds.
Well, if nobody's been talking about Chrome OS for media tablets, perhaps the Download Squad report is bunk. Or perhaps Google simply hasn't been promoting Chrome OS for tablets.
Some Android-based tablets, including the diminutive Dell Streak, are now shipping. Many others are expected to arrive soon. But is Android ready for tablets? Version 2.2 has many new features for smartphones, but its talents as a tablet OS remain to be seen.
According to device vendors, Android 3.0 will be Google's first mobile OS that's fully optimized for the media tablet's larger display and navigation features, says Kevorkian. Version 3.0 may arrive as early as October, according to recent reports.