Google Wants to Conquer Netbook Market Next

Google's Android OS has proved it can hang with the big boys in the mobile handset market, and with a few tweaks, it will probably prove popular in the tablet space too. So what's next for Google? Try netbooks. According to Glen Murphy, the Australian lead designer on Google's Chrome operating system and Web browser ventures, consumers will start seeing the first Chrome computers shipping later this year.

Murphy says most of the big name vendors plan on getting in on the action, including Acer, Asus, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba. All of these companies will release Chrome-based netbooks at some point in the not-too-distant future.

"Mostly Chrome OS is a browser; it's really just a way of letting you buy a computer and have the Web be at the center of the experience," Murphy said. "We look at what everyone's doing with computers today and by and large most people only ever need the Web."

Chrome OS is basically a glorified version of Google's Chrome browser and relies heavily on cloud computing. For those who do most of their daily activities from within a browser already -- email, watching videos, chatting, and so forth -- Chrome OS will likely present a compelling option. But what it won't be great at is gaming, at least not from the outset.

"Gaming is one of the last remaining things that people feel they have to do outside of the browser because the browser hasn't traditionally been capable of these rich 3D experiences," Murphy added.

Google will be going up against both Microsoft and Apple when Chrome OS finally launches, and also with itself. Android netbooks haven't really gained much traction, but there are several Android-based tablets on the horizon, a space where Chrome OS will eventually find its way into as well. So what's the difference between the two platforms?

"Android is very focused on the best mobile experience there is, Chrome is very focused on the best Web experience there is -- obviously those things aren't mutually exclusive," Murphy explains.