During his keynote speech at IFA, Eric Schmidt made some interesting comments in regards to Android, tablets, and TVs. Specifically, TV's would be shipping with Google TV software on board (rather than as add-on hardware), and tablets will run Chrome OS rather than Android.


That tablets will primarily run Chrome OS may come as a surprise to some people - after all, nearly every tablet that doesn't run Windows (or iOS) runs Android. Hell, just take a look at this list:

However, Chrome OS can be a solid fit for tablets, with one fairly serious caveat: you need a nearly constant data connection. See, Chrome OS is built upon the cloud - just check out Wikipedia's summary:

Google Chrome OS is an upcoming Linux-based, open source operating system designed by Google to work exclusively with web applications. Announced on July 7, 2009, Chrome OS is set to have a publicly available stable release during the second half of 2010.

Chrome OS will not be available as a download to run and install. Instead, the operating system will only ship on specific hardware from Google's manufacturing partners.The user interface takes a minimalist approach, resembling that of the Chrome web browser. Because the only application on the device will be a browser incorporating a media player,Google Chrome OS is aimed at users who spend most of their time on the Internet.

In other words, minimal data is housed locally, which is both a thing of beauty and its Achilles heel. By keeping the data off the device, the OS can run on lower-end hardware and requires substantially less storage. At the same time, however, you need a data connection to use your device - a horribly unattractive characteristic.

Having established what Chrome OS is, it may seem a bit odd that they're opting to base Google TV off of Android. In fact, having researched both, it still seems odd to me; Android is inherently a mobile OS. TV's are much more likely to have a permanent web connection than tablets or netbooks.


Makes sense.

Once again, the only reason I can think of comes back to hardware: Chrome can run on virtually any level of hardware, while Android has basic requirements (albeit, also low).

If you have a better understanding of the logic behind their seeminly backwards usage of Android/Chrome OS, feel free to enlighten me in the comments below. Extra brownie points awarded to those who can provide solid source links.

[Source: Reuters UK]

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • anakin78z

    "...you need a data connection to use your device – a horribly unattractive characteristic."
    Really? Heh, that doesn't seem so horrible to me, and I question the usefulness of either Android or Chrome OS without a connection.
    I do think that focusing on Chrome OS for tablets is an odd choice. I think Android lends itself well to tablet computing.
    But maybe this is a different type of device, focusing primarily on browsing and ease of use. I'd love to see a fully featured browser like Chrome, with extension support and everything, on a tablet.
    But I'm not sure I'd take that over a full Android experience. Just, you know, make it an apk :)

    • SirWally

      "...and I question the usefulness of either Android or Chrome OS without a connection"

      Really? I have LOTS of apps on my phone that do not need a data connection.

      "I’d love to see a fully featured browser like Chrome, with extension support and everything, on a tablet."

      Yup. $h!tcan ChromeOS and simply beef up the browser.

      Personally, I have no use for ChromeOS, and would refuse to purchase one unless Android was on it. Not to say that others wouldn't, but I really believe that Google's focus on ChromeOS for tablets is misguided, and isn't good for Android (or Google) for a number of reasons...

      • anakin78z

        Just for kicks I went through all my apps and counted the number of apps that required or were enhanced by a connection, vs ones that don't need one:
        62 vs. 51.

        So, I guess there ARE plenty of apps that don't need a data connection, but there are more still that do, and I wouldn't want to give those up.

        • JaToMa

          You shall not give up apps that require a connection!
          But you probably also won't give up apps that don't require a connection.
          And there are plenty of regions where the connections suck. Getting your music, videos, pictures out of the cloud can get pretty awful with such a connection.
          Not to mention the powerconsumption of 3g/4g network usage.

          I want to be free to use my tablet WHEREVER I am.

  • Alex Hamlin

    Android tablets are going to be expensive and remain that way. Wireless providers have a stranglehold on the US market and will see to it that. You are not going to see affordable market accessible android tablets without a 3g chip and a 2 year contract.

    Chrome tablets will fill in the lower end market. They will be wifi only and wont come with 3g chips. Wireless providers don't want them on their network because of bandwidth.

    TVs manufacturers want include as many features and charge as much as possible for this new technology so they are starting with android. Chrome TVs will come later.

    • Aaron Gingrich

      I don't understand why you feel that Android tablets will be more expensive? To me, a Chrome OS tablet would be more expensive because it would REQUIRE a data connection to function properly, whereas an Android tablet would not.

      • Alex H.

        An android tablet is more expensive because it requires more processor, more memory and more storage space. RAM and Flash memory add hundreds of dollars to a device (justified or not).

        All a chrome tablet is going to do is get you to the web. Everything else is done in the cloud. The requirements for that are minimal.

        • Aaron Gingrich

          I agree that it adds cost, but I think you're hugely overestimating how much.

  • http://brainbird.net/RagnarokAngel RagnarokAngel

    The real issue here is that ChromeOS is just a firming up of the Chromium project — it doesn't add anything new except possibly "webapps" but they are just websites. Android is actually a full operating system that can be customized to run on TVs and have a UI and accept all these other inputs. This is something that just won't get added to Chrome in the browser, so there won't be Chrome TVs

  • Isaac

    Google never made any sense with ChromeOS. When they first announced it they said it was cloud only and required a constant internet connection, which made it a perfect fit for..... netbooks? The only computers that are virtually guaranteed to have a constant internet connection are desktops. The kind that sit on your desk and don't move. Even if we accept that netbooks and tablets have mobile broadband, you still can't get that everywhere. What about airplanes and subways? What about people like me who spend 95% of everyday within some kind of wifi. I have to buy a data plan just so my comp doesn't crap out entirely for the other 5% of the day?
    I made a prediction about ChromeOS when it first was announced. It's either going to slowly morph into a standard (but lightweight) OS with a heavy browser focus. Or it was going to stay cloud only, browser only and fail entirely. I still think that's true, even with the great strides in mobile broadband since then.

    • anakin78z

      But consider this possible future: It doesn't matter what computer you're on (or possibly what kind of device you're on)... as soon as you log in, it's YOUR computer, with your background, your music, your apps. Whether you use your desktop at home, your tablet on the go, or your grandma's computer at your grandma's place, you never have to worry about anything not being there or not working as expected.
      I think that's the future that Chrome OS is shooting for. It might just work for webapps now, but the faster connections get, and the more we live in the cloud, the more this will make sense for most of our computing needs. We might not be there just yet, but Chrome OS is the first big step to a world where all we do is use different terminals, and aren't dependent on specific devices.
      That being said, I think Android actually lends itself just fine to this, as there is already tons of cloud functionality built in...

      • Aaron Gingrich

        I like the idea, I just don't think we're there yet.

  • Andreas

    hmm, I was under the impression that the Chrome OS would somehow converge with the Android in the future.

    If thats not going to happen the Chrome market and offline capabilities should make it possible to use the table with no data connectivity whatsoever.

  • Hoggdoc

    What are the people at Google smoking these days. ICS has just been released and is suppose to be the end-all-do-all for both phones and tablets. To suggest that tablet owners would like the Chrome OS environment anymore than the short-lived Chrome OS netbooks is just plain stupid on their part.

    For my part I would love to see them develop Android into a desktop OS that would run on both MAC and PC hardware.