Chrome OS may be absorbed into Android at some point, but Google is not ready to talk about its demise just yet.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Google will “fold” Chrome OS into Android by 2017. That’s due to the prevalence of Android over the capable, but largely unpopular cloud-centric model of Chrome OS, according to the people familiar with the matter. The dual approach of Android on phones and Chrome OS on PCs is “no longer relevant to Google,” the story goes.
In the hours after the WSJ story was published, The Verge and Recode both independently confirmed the information. We will reportedly get our first look at the Android-Chrome OS hybrid at Google I/O next year.
According to Recode, Chrome OS and Chromebooks won’t be going away, at least not right away. Google’s partners will still get to use Chrome OS for their laptops, which have proven a hit in schools and enterprise. But laptops makers will also be able to choose Android for their products.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, the newly anointed head of Android and Chrome, took to Twitter to reassure Chrome OS fans that the operating system will live on, in one form or another.
There’s a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) October 30, 2015
We can’t expect Lockheimer to fess up on Google’s long-term plans. And, small as the Chrome OS ecosystem may be, Google still needs to reassure users, developers, and partners that they are not investing in a dead platform.
Lockheimer’s tweet, however, can be taken as a sign that Chrome OS will live on in some form, even if it’s just functionality integrated into Android.
It will definitely be a very interesting 12-24 months in the world of Android. After tackling wearables, TVs, and autos, Google seems ready to make Android a real computer operating system. It definitely won’t be easy, and Android will need a massive revamp in order to make it truly PC-friendly. But the horizon opened by this expansion is wide open.