updated 10:10 pm EDT, Thu August 26, 2010
Editorial: Google hurts own chance at beating iPad
(Editorial) There is little debating the importance of the tablet space nowadays. And the arguments that can be made in its favor are as well-known as Apple itself. But that doesn't mean that simply throwing any device on store shelves is a good idea. It also doesn't mean that, just because a firm is successful in other markets, it will enjoy similar success in the tablet space.
Case in point: Google.
The search company is starting to make inroads into the tablet market byway of Android OS. The mobile operating system, which is available to smartphone and tablet makers, most recently launched on Dell's Streak and soon to come Samsung Galaxy Tab.
But now reports are swirling that HTC, a key Google partner in the smartphone market, is developing a Chrome OS-based tablet to compete with Apple's iPad. And if true, the device would also compete with every Android-based tablet on the market, as well.
Google's decision to potentially offer both operating systems in the tablet space is suspect, to say the least. I understand that the company wants to steal market share away from Apple, and by doing so, it can potentially bolster its revenue in that market. But why would it want to compete against itself?
The first rule of any well-run organization is to not cannibalize another product or division. But by giving vendors their choice of software, Google is doing just that. And in the process, it looks all the more confused as Apple proves that a single, well-designed operating system will get the job done every time.
Of course, Google might feel differently. It might believe that Chrome OS and Android OS are distinct in the markets they target, and it believes that it would make sense to offer the software packages to companies. And while that's certainly possible and Google could eventually be proven correct, it's hard to see how that makes much sense right now.
Google is be a wildly successful company that has proven to perform well with every product it offers, but that doesn't mean that it can enjoy the same success in the tablet space by splitting its market. Apple's iPad is successful because it delivers an experience that consumers know and love. But if consumers are looking at Google's offerings, they will need to decide if they want Android or Chrome. And then, the inevitable confusion and issues with certain aspects of both operating systems would arise. Do you value apps or the web? You can't quite have both in Google's world.
Going forward, it seems likely that Google will offer two operating systems in the tablet market. And although it could turn out to be a good idea, the confusion and market-share issues it would create could prove to be a mistake.
At this point, the company's seeming confusion only shows all the more that a multi-OS strategy isn't the best idea in the tablet market -- especially when Apple has proven that one can work very well.
By Don Reisinger]