Which business problems will Google Wave address? A few weeks ago, I watched the Google Wave launch video with a mix of interest and nervousness. A big part of my reaction was shaped (warped?) by my experience doing product management and product marketing for collaboration and content management products. While I didn't launch myself at the screen yelling "Noooooooo!" (in slow motion), I did worry that Google might walk straight into an all-too-familiar minefield of competing solution areas.
Collaboration and content management pose a classic problem in requirements and design: Which solution do you want to target? If you build a product without prioritizing among all the different business problems that it might address, you'll build a very "horizontal" product that satisfies no one. Or, worse, it makes perfect sense to you, but everyone else struggles to see how it will best work for them.
Today Sony announced that its public domain offerings from Google in its eBook store has reached 1 million volumes. That's a lot of eBooks. For context, the Library of Congress has 32 million books and is the world's largest library; Harvard's collection is 5th largest at 15 million books. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) So we're merrily trucking along at digitizing the world's collection of books.
Google's announcement about the Chrome OS raises a whole lotta questions about the future of the operating systems market, or what an operating system really is, or how the Chrome OS fits into Google's larger strategy. As interesting as these questions may be, we also have very little foundation on which to answer them.
I have a much longer post here about the reasons why we can't reach any conclusions yet. Here's the short version:
Netbooks, which play a significant role in the prospects for Chrome OS, can be both a blessing and a curse.
You could say the same thing about the degree to which the Chrome OS depends on the Chrome browser.
Users may not see the compelling reasons to use this new platform, or even understand it fully.
Governments may not be thrilled about the implications for competition and privacy.
There's still a lot of murkiness about cloud computing in general that this does nothing to dispel.
I was intrigued and excited to see Google announcement of their second operating system effort today, Google Chrome OS. I’ve been thinking about how client operating systems will evolve ever since I began struggling with having data spread across multiple PCs. I finally gathered together my thoughts on the future of client OS in the The Personal Cloud, published just two days ago.
My working title for this report was “Death of the PC OS” because I believe that the industry needs to rethink and expand the role of PC and device operating systems.