Now that Google has acquired Motorola, they are able to make their opinions clear about whether they think Android is or will ever be suited for desktop use. With the termination of Motorola’s Webtop, it’s becoming clear that Google has no intention of ever using Android as a desktop OS. So the question is, will Google ever compete for the desktop market?
Google still has ChromeOS, which I’ve always thought is designed for $200 machines, or devices that are free on contract. But Google doesn’t usually understand how to price these “new category” devices when they are first launching them (see original Google TV and Motorola’s Xoom). I think ChromeOS hasn’t succeeded in a meaningful way so far because the devices it’s running on are too expensive when you’re just getting a “browser”, and because HTML5 and other web technologies are simply “not there” yet.
Sergey Brin has said before that he can see ChromeOS and Android merging together at some point in the future. This could be why Google is killing Motorola’s Webtop, and why they seem to have no intention of porting Android to desktop PCs. Perhaps they want to give ChromeOS one more major push, by integrating it with Android. That would offer users a tablet or smartphone experience in standalone mode, and a desktop experience when docking the device to a PC monitor with a keyboard and mouse.
Although Google has said for a long time that ChromeOS will be ported to ARM, that hasn’t happened yet. It seems the technical issues were quite challenging. Also they are probably doing a favor to Intel’s Paul Otellini (Google board member) by supporting ChromeOS on Intel chips first.
I think it’s a very bad strategic choice. If Atom ever gets popular in the mobile world, it will ultimately play in Microsoft’s favor, because they can actually from making x86 apps work on their mobiles devices. Meanwhile, Google has no real benefit from supporting Atom, and by helping Intel they are just indirectly helping Microsoft.
Google may finally be ready to port ChromeOS to ARM, as some leaks were showing they are working on porting it to Samsung’s Exynos 5 Dual chip, but we don’t know yet if that’s just another netbook type device, or a smartphone/tablet that comes with both Android and ChromeOS. I hope they will do the same with Google TV, and merge the smart TV platform with Android, so you can dock your Android phone to any TV. But this may be a distant goal.
When is this sort of integration going to arrive to Android? My guess is in the next version of Android, which I hope will arrive this fall.