Google Chrome Tablet vs. iPad: Open vs. Closed


There’s talk that one of the things up Google’s increasingly packed sleeve is a tablet PC built to run Google’s upcoming Chrome OS. Yesterday, ReadWriteWeb posted a comparison between what Google would offer with a Chrome tablet and what Apple is promising with its iPad. Basically, the difference comes down to open vs. closed, a choice between Google’s open-source, Web-based vision of computing, and Apple’s sleek, yet totally Apple-controlled, idea for the iPad.

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Where Apple’s iPad will be restricted to running approved applications from the iTunes App Store – a business model that has raised flags when Apple’s app overlords blocked popular, rival apps from their store (most notably, Google Voice) – the model has proved incredibly successful for the Cupertino-based company. The iPhone OS is the most popular smartphone OS in the world with Google’s mobile Android OS trailing further behind. Although Google’s mobile offering is far more open, consumers have – so far – voted with their wallets, choosing Apple’s restrictive “we’ll think for you” mobile OS and accompanying ecosystem over Google’s “do what you want” alternative.

Obviously, this issue doesn’t just affect eBooks, but it’s at the heart of the problem with the iPad, and at the heart of what’s so exciting, and frightening, about Google Books and Google Editions. Google envisions a world where information is ubiquitous and accessible to all (via Google’s ad-sponsored servers), and that includes eBooks. Apple likes a world full of partnerships, where content providers follow the rules if they want their content viewed through Apple’s super-popular hardware. So which one is better for books, and for readers? Is it like choosing between an airport bookstore and Borges’ Library of Babel? Is that oversimplifying or making things way too complicated?