Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Puzzling Case of Google Chromebook Packaged Apps

by Dietrich Schmitz

Ah, Google Chrome packaged applications.  I see.  What?!

So maybe you are as confused as I am.  Apparently, Google is, once again, on the move not sitting still, not complacent, innovating as they are wont to do and on Internet Time.

That means, a frenetic pace, which hasn't let up continues with more announcements that makes one's head spin.

The most recent is packages.  Now, you are wondering, for what are packages needed?

After all, the Chromebook's raison d'etre has been that you don't need to install any software right?

Wrong.  That appears to be changing.  And, looking just this past weekend at a Walmart $199 Acer C710 in-store display, I thought, what is a Chromebook with 1TB of disk space going to be used for?

Acer C710 Chromebook sold in U.S. Walmart stores
[Update: It was pointed out on reddit that if one drills down on the website SKU shown above and behind in 'specifications', it shows 16GB SSD; still there are other SKUs being sold with large local hard drives, so the question stands: why a large HDD?]

It also includes a blue-ray drive which will keep the movie industry happy.

But, I digress.  Packages.  What are they all about?  Well, it seems that Google Chrome is now offering packaged Apps for ChromeOS.  At least they're available to those using the developer channel for now.  And only show if you use Windows or Chromebook.  That explains me not noticing.  I usually skim through the Chrome Store once a week with my drag-net looking for trends.  The announcement came quietly.  I missed it.  I suppose because there have been so many from Google, it becomes part of the ambient Internet background noise level.

I really don't know what this portends for the future of Chromebook.  I suppose that the proof is in the pudding and those packaged Apps have yet to materialize in any major way.

Let's call it an escape hatch for Google.  They won't or can't (or both) encrypt your data on Google Drive, but you sure can keep your data safe on a local drive--far better than in the Cloud (cough NSA).  That might allay potential buyer concerns.  Local storage good.  Cloud bad.

And back to school is only a blink of an eye away in August, so, there is a yet unrealized explosion of sales to be exploited from the newest Walmart and Staples distribution channels.

The potential for sales is huge at Walmart and of course Google knows that.  And, the potential for students to adopt Chromebook is also good, but is it good enough for many who still are wanting to install apps locally?  That is Google's hedge with packages.  Really, if Google made up their mind, they could simply package ChromeOS as a free-standing Linux Distribution.  They just have to decide to do it.  For now, you get ChromeOS only on Chromebook.

Packages is not going to fly if there aren't Apps--good ones.  That will tell the tale in the long run.

-- Dietrich
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