What Does Google Chrome Mean to SMBs?


Just in case you still haven't heard about it, Google has officially announced on the Google Blog that the company is working on a new operating system called Chrome OS. The OS is built first and foremost for use on the Web, and is due to make its appearance in the second half of 2010.


A lightweight operating system initially targeted at netbooks, it is also due to make its debut on one, according to Google. In addition, the code for the new operating system will be open-sourced later this year. As can be expected, opinions on the Chrome OS are diverse to the extreme. Some feel that the Chrome OS will push Apple to address its failings, but what effect will it have on netbooks and SMBs, if at all?


If you recall, I earlier examined the idea of using a netbook in an SMB, and I encouraged businesses to open their minds to these budget-friendly devices in order to reduce cost. This recommendation would certainly have more teeth with a free and robust operating system in place.


On the other hand, Fredric Paul from bMighty.com thinks SMBs are simply not ready for it:


"It's common for SMB employees to have Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook; some CRM solution; a browser; and IM running at the same time. This would make a netbook feel like a chihuahua running the Kentucky Derby."


Actual technical details pertaining to the Chrome OS are non-existent at this point, unfortunately. As such, it is impossible to examine its impact with any kind of precision. However, I can agree that the future is in the Web. I would advise SMBs not to commit to longer-term licensing agreements for proprietary fat-client software in the meantime. And yes, it also makes sense for SMBs to start migrating into cloud or browser-based applications where possible.