A Google Tablet Means It's Time to Kill Chrome OS

Last Updated Apr 13, 2010 3:58 PM EDT

Google (GOOG) is the perfect example of a company with more money and resources than good sense. It regularly develops competing product lines without any consideration for whether they make clear business sense. A perfect example is the buzz about an Android-based tablet that Google may launch to kill the iPad from arch rival Apple (AAPL). In some ways, a tablet running Android would make a lot of sense. So, please, someone tell me why Google is still bothering with Chrome OS?

In case you no longer remember, Chrome OS is the operating system Google announced last fall that is supposed to run on netbooks (and kill Windows). Chrome OS would start-up lightning fast for users, all applications would all run in a browser from the web, and it will allow Google to rule the world. The company said that it would be out in a year -- which would work out to this coming November or so -- and that many hardware vendors had expressed interest in building netbooks around it.

I'm sure it sounded like a great idea at the time. I'm sure there are probably plenty of people making a nice living working on the project. It may even be that the technology behind it is way cool. But a few problems have crept up in the last five months.

Android, Google's OS for mobile phones, already has fans, and it has rapidly gained market share in the handset industry. In fact, it's already showing signs that it might overtake iPhone sales. The touch interface makes it a natural for a tablet, which, as a form factor, sees netbooks as potential breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By planning on a tablet running the operating system, Google acknowledges that it has potential beyond the handset -- just as it always had.

Hardware vendors were never as enthusiastic as Google had tried to portray them. Since January and the announcement of the iPad, many of the hardware companies have gone mad for tablets. The devices are relatively small, can be carried about with one hand, are good for consuming media, and seem to have captured consumer interest. Hardware vendors hope that tablets can pull buyer attention, at higher prices, away from netbooks. That's critical as the companies have lost a lot of potential revenue when consumers passed on more expensive devices for the cheap netbooks.

In other words, Android is on the fast track for machines that could make netbooks, and Chrome OS, practically irrelevant. Furthermore, it now seems that Google's arch enemy is Apple, not Microsoft, and the target for destruction is the iPhone OS, not Windows.

I know that Google has more money than most small countries, but why waste any of it, or the engineering talent? It's time to let Chrome OS fall to the wayside. It was a nice concept for a relatively short time, but competitive success doesn't mean sticking to everything you started, particularly when it's likely to be as useful as a bicycle to a chicken.

Tombstone Image: RGBStock.com user kodakgold, site standard license.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.