Google has thrown down the gauntlet with the Chrome OS. Unlike other operating systems to date, Chrome is browser-based and designed to be used in the “cloud:” a suite of remotely hosted web apps. This isn’t the first time a company has tried to center computing on remotely hosted applications but it is by far the most ambitious, and falls in line with an apparent road map that builds on services like Gmail and Google Docs.
If it catches on, this represents an unparalleled shift for strategic internet marketing. Let’s look these possible effects:
- Many people already use Gmail as their primary email application and are exposed to context-sensitive ads through Google’s AdSense service. Chrome OS may spark a surge in Gmail use, from thousands of new users to people who promote Gmail from their secondary to primary email. AdSense ads will only increase in importance.
- Google has put itself in an enviable position, where simply getting people online is good for its bottom line. Google search integrated into the UI may well catch late adopters of the Web as the primary tool to plan purchases.
- Microsoft’s antitrust woes demonstrate that locking people into one company’s services is bound to attract unwanted attention from governments and consumer advocates, so even though Google services will be in the lead for adoption there will probably be options to integrate competitors such as MSN Live. If so, these services will probably also see increased usage as well.
- The Chrome browser’s features are interesting when it comes to budgeting for economical SEO versus Pay per Click search engine marketing. The browser suggests search results right in the box, so there’s less need to actually visit a search engine results page. Presumably, this vastly increases the importance of SEO efforts, but will it make PPC less useful? It seems more likely that to change its role in the user experience. PPC will enter the picture when users want to research a subject in detail, or if they have trouble finding exactly what they’re looking for. Campaigns will have to target these users by being mindful of the long tail and grabbing attention with desired information, immediately.
This isn’t all that will happen. Chrome is designed to support Solid state drives exclusively, hinting at a focus on netbooks, tablets and other semi-mobile or mobile devices. In any event, great opportunities lay ahead for those willing to explore the possibilities strategically.