Does Google Chrome OS Has What it Takes to Succeed in the Netbook Market?

When I saw this Gizmodo headline…

You Can Bet Chrome OS Is Coming to Smartphones

I thought they might have dug up some secret plans about how Android was just the entry level to smartphones and that Chrome OS was to be the platform for some new hybrid platform that would have us dump both our current smartphones and netbooks. But, no, the item was just good entertaining story telling based on some interesting speculation.

However, it did get me thinking more about Google Chrome OS and its chances for success. Something isn’t going to be an instant success or even survive just because it has a Google brand on it. Look a Android or Dodgeball or Jaiku.

A successful platform has to perform a set of highly desirable basic tasks better than anything currently available. The platform has to attract good developers and killer apps to stay viable past its initial success. Finally, the platform has to show continual innovation with each release.

The first Palm OS PDAs (Palm Pilot, etc.) succeeded because of the first two attributes and then failed because it didn’t meet the third. Windows Mobile actually overtook Palm after years of competition because Microsoft did, in fact, continually innovate during the first part of this decade. Then, it lay stagnant for the last couple of years is generally considered a non-contender at this point (though that may change with Windows Mobile 7 if it surprises us the way Windows 7 has on the desktop). And, of course, the relatively new (3 years old) Apple iPhone has, so far, demonstrated all three attributes.

So, Google’s Chrome OS needs to give us something on the netbook (or netbook-like) platform better than Windows and other mobile Linux distros do now. And, it has to quickly attract developers to its platform if it aims to become a disruptive product.