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by Stephen Logan on 12th May 2011
As a general rule, technology companies don’t want you using the products and services of their competitors. They invest billions in creating new products and software just to ensure consumers aren’t found wanting or straying off elsewhere. As if to perfectly demonstrate this, Google has announced that it is releasing the Chromebook.
This isn’t your average netbook. You won’t find any in-built Microsoft tools or iTunes. It runs the Chrome operating system, uses Google Docs, the in-built browser is Chrome and everything is saved in the Google cloud. There’s no escaping it. When you buy a Chromebook, you are effectively locked in to Google.
Of course they aren’t alone in this. The other two main players, Microsoft and Apple, have spent years developing their own products integrated within software integrated within devices. The battlefield has moved from desktop computers, on to laptops and now on to mobile technology – particularly smartphones and tablets.
Apple release the iPhone, Microsoft creates the Windows phone and Google develops its own platform – Android. Apple creates the iPad, Google develop Android powered tablets. It’s a revolving circus that shows no signs of stopping.
The interesting thing about the Chromebook though, is that it is entirely made up of Google products. It doesn’t have the capacity to integrate Office, it is a device created solely for accessing the Internet and designed to store everything in ‘the cloud’ – not a hard drive. All of which is explained rather nicely in the following video.
Google has a major head start when it comes to cloud technology. They have been pushing products like Google Docs for years. Allowing signed in users to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, storing them all remotely. This is an entirely free service too and is integrated with everything else when you create a profile, which has helped it to gain huge popularity – particularly for those without access to the expensive Office Suite from Microsoft.
Storing your documents, videos and emails in the cloud means that they are safe from accidental damage on an individual device. For instance, if you had saved years of articles on your desktop and it was destroyed in a house fire, there’s probably no way of getting that information back. When it’s saved in the cloud however, it can be accessed from any computer, tablet or mobile device at any time; and, best of all, it should remain safe at all times.
Of course there are security concerns about simply firing your personal information out into the digital ether. However, so far major breaches have been few and far between; certainly when compared with data lost through viruses and individual error – lost memory sticks being a classic example.
Whether the Chromebook will be a huge success remains to be seen. However, what it does show is that Google are increasingly looking to lock users into its services. You search with them, you share videos through YouTube, you email through Gmail, you create your spreadsheets on Docs and browse through Chrome. Who needs Microsoft or Apple?