Chrome OS Is Already a Massive Winner

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) can't lose with Chrome OS, even if it proves to be a failure as an operating system.

Skeptics will argue that Chrome OS isn't an operating system at all, and isn't that revolutionary. Perhaps -- but it doesn't matter. Google needs two things and two things only to increase its profits from here:

  1. More users on the Web.
  2. Existing Web users doing more stuff on the Web.

Chrome OS, if nothing else, is a forcing action; it forces Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) to take Web software more seriously, because Google has changed the conversation. We're now arguing over whether a browser can substitute for something as sophisticated as Windows or Mac OS X.

Developers appear to be considering the idea. More than 19,000 showed up at salesforce.com's (NYSE: CRM  ) Dreamforce user conference last week, indicating a very healthy pipeline for Web-based software. Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX  ) , meanwhile, is using the cloud computing movement to build a more efficient business.

To be fair, Chrome OS isn't exactly digital altruism. Google has every intention of beating Microsoft as a netbook OS supplier. The hope, it seems, is to convince customers to switch from Word, Excel, Outlook, etc., to Google Apps. Former Microsoftie Don Dodge will help with the effort.

Even as smart and experienced as he is, I'm not sure Dodge can win that war. Fortunately, he doesn't have to. Where applications and OS revenue are fundamental to Microsoft, those things are supplemental for Google. That's the beauty of Chrome OS. The very act of picking this fight should get more of us on the Web, and that alone is a win for Google -- even if, as a product, Chrome OS is a loser.

But that's also just my take. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off using the comments box below.

Google, Rackspace Hosting, and salesforce.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is happy to be here, thank you.


Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 4:30 PM, lw67 wrote:

    Why is it that most all articles I read praise Apple and Google? MSFT however seems to be spit upon by the writing profession. Even when as is the case with Google a product that even if it is a complete failure that doesn't matter it is still a success in the eye of the writer. In the case of MSFT and Windows 7 well its selling twice as fast as any previous OS hell its no big deal but oh my god google has a system that even if its worth crap is STILL something to set up and take notice. Gag me Puke me. I thought Chrome wasn't even going to be out till the middle of next yr. and already some quack is telling me that it is a success. Thus I pronounce him a quack and not worth reading or listening too.

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 5:14 PM, Fool wrote:

    I agree with the first commentor ... at least in general. Why is MS, the third most profitable company in the world always seen as a failure by online analysts? I just read article the other day that would make you think Google docs has taken over the enterprise market. Then I look at an independant market study and the truth is it still has little market share and MS Office is still gaining and now over 95% of the market. Just because you all hate MS and "want is so" doesn't mean it is.

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 5:34 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Hello lw67, Fool --

    Thanks for the comments.

    >>Why is it that most all articles I read praise Apple and Google?

    Perhaps because you aren't reading enough of the site? No doubt some of us are more bullish on the prospects for Apple and Google than Microsoft, but I've dished criticism to both when they deserve it. Two examples:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/06/26/someone-at-...

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/09/28/google-owes...

    Also, I've had good reasons to praise Microsoft recently:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2009/09/28/why-dont-you-...

    Bottom line, I don't hate Microsoft any more than you do. But I don't like it as an investment more than I do Apple or Google right now.

    FWIW and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 5:44 PM, miteycasey wrote:

    Microsoft is getting long in the tooth compared to Apple and Google.

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 7:51 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    MSFT gets bashed because they deserve it. They build bloated buggy software - Office being a prime example. Why in the world do we need to keep getting expensive upgrades to this pig of a program suite? And then the bug and security patches that follow? (And can you say "vista"?) Further, MSFT has shown over time that they could care less about the enduser, and have continually used anticompetitive behavior to kill off competition and stifle innovation. Gee, lets all praise the great MSFT you say? Give me a break.

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 7:54 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    MSFT gets bashed because they deserve it. They build bloated buggy software - Office being a prime example. Why in the world do we need to keep getting expensive upgrades to this pig of a program suite? And then the bug and security patches that follow? (And can you say "vista"?) Further, MSFT has shown over time that they could care less about the enduser, and have continually used anticompetitive behavior to kill off competition and stifle innovation. Gee, lets all praise the great MSFT you say? Give me a break.

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2009, at 11:59 PM, eltoro2827 wrote:

    I agree with the first post.

    Writer, where are your sources that chrome os is a massive winner. Several websites including cnet,engadget and gizmodo have had tons of readers post very,very negative reviews of chrome os.

    There is nothing wrong with u trying to boost google stock by posting a headline that is totally false.

    But please stick to any journalstic skills u may have, if not , your local mcdonalds may be hiring.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2009, at 8:24 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Hello eltoro2827,

    >>Writer, where are your sources that chrome os is a massive winner.

    So I'm assuming you didn't read the story?

    I'm not quoting a source who says Chrome OS is great. I'm saying that Google can't lose because the very idea of debating the merits of a browser as an OS replacement leads more people to the Web. That's good for Google's business.

    Thanks and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2009, at 9:01 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Turns out that Robert Scoble was ahead of me on this idea. Fair is fair, so I'm posting his take here:

    http://scobleizer.com/2009/11/20/why-google-chrome-os-has-al...

    Thanks again for the comments. Remember: every comment posted to Fool.com during our Foolanthropy drive -- ends Jan. 10, 2010 -- earns $0.10 for a great charity.

    Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

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