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For a product that's launching in the second half of the year, Google's Chrome OS isn't on the radar of system builders to any great extent. Even those that appreciate Chrome OS' potential to shake things up in the operating systems market believe it'll take a while to have a meaningful impact.
As of mid-April, Google says it's still on track to bring Chrome OS hardware to market sometime between June and January. The list of partners helping Google to bring Chrome OS-powered hardware to market hasn't changed either: It still consists of Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba.
Here's what else we know: Chrome OS will run on X86 and ARM processors, it's designed for netbooks with solid state drives and it represents Google's effort to re-think the operating system in a Web application-centric way. But at this point, that's all Google is saying about Chrome OS. "We have nothing new to announce at this time," a Google spokesperson told CRN in mid-April.
Given the dearth of information on Chrome OS, system builders haven't even begun to think about the business case for Chrome OS. And they're not surprised that customers aren't hounding them for details on forthcoming Chrome OS hardware.
"Our salespeople aren't getting a lot of inquiries about Chrome OS from customers, and they haven't even heard of anyone asking for it," said Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder.
Bob Nitrio, CEO of Ranvest Associates, an Orangevale, Calif.-based technology consultant, says the sparse information Google has provided about Chrome OS isn't enough to form an interpretation of where it will fit into the solution stack. "Chrome OS isn't a topic of discussion with our clients. They've been in the Windows world so long that it's not even in the conversation," Nitrio said.
"If Chrome OS emerges as a viable OS, I would certainly take a look. But for now, my clients aren't really concerned about what new OS is on the horizon," Nitrio added.
Market forces within the system builder channel are also contributing to the lack of buzz about Chrome OS.
Although many large system builders and local OEMs have built their businesses on the desktop, and continue to maintain their desktop businesses, a growing number are shifting their marketing to servers and storage. Desktop platforms don't occupy the same front-and-center channel mindshare that they used to.
These days, system builders are going after solutions opportunities in virtualization, white box SAN solutions, HPC, and private clouds, according to Joe Toste, vice president of marketing at Minneapolis-based Equus Computing.
"I know of no other system builders investing effort in developing new desktop platforms based on a new OS, whether it's Chrome OS, Ubuntu, or whatever," said Toste. "Sure, we're bending sheet metal and trying to new create interesting desktop form factors. But I hear no ISVs asking us to validate applications for Chrome OS systems."
NEXT: Are System Builders Invited To The Chrome OS Party?