Are Chromebooks the Future of Notebooks?

Ben Bajarin - May 12, 2011, 8:53am CDT
Are Chromebooks the Future of Notebooks?

Google’s keynote yesterday was all about Chrome and, in essence, all about the future of the web. Despite the creative enhancements they are making to the Chrome browser it was the section on Chromebooks and Chrome OS that stood out most to me. Primarily because of the thought that the Chromebook may represent the future of notebooks.

Chris Davies wrote a great piece last night as a part of our SlashGear 101 series detailing what exactly a ChromeBook is and I encourage you to check that out for more Chromebook details.

From my own experience with the Cr-48 reference design I felt that I could grasp the potential of Chrome OS but that many kinks needed to be worked out, especially in the way of file management. What I was skeptical about was how quickly Google could work out those issues and deliver to users a device that met the market’s needs.

Many of the additions they added to the Chrome OS that will ship with the first market-ready Chromebooks on June 15th did just that, from the file manager to the media player and more. Chromebooks are, and will be, very early for the market and most likely won’t ship in mass quantities. They will certainly appeal to a portion of the market but actually getting to market was the first hurdle which Google has almost passed.

So do these devices represent the future of notebooks or computing in general for that matter? My answer is yes and here is why.

When I talk with industry luminaries whom I trust and respect, a common theme they bring up regarding the future of computing is the cloud. When you dissect that and drill down on it, it becomes evident that if that is true, as many luminaries think it is, then that means that the programming language of the future is JavaScript. If all that is true, it means that apps or web apps developed around JavaScript for cloud- and browser-based computing is where the industry is heading.

I recently moderated a panel at AppNation where my panelists Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management at Qualcomm and David Williams, VP, Mobile at AT&T both confirmed much of the same sentiment. Which was, that web apps are the wave of the future and will be the dominant way consumers use apps and software.

We all agreed and pointed out that here will always be a role for native software in the future, but to a minimal degree. However I believe the dominant computing experiences done by consumers and business workers alike will be done in the browser. This doesn’t mean that we still don’t need hardware innovations.

When you look at HTML 5 and where HTML can go its clear that through the browser web apps will be able to take advantage of all the hardware innovations the industry creates. We see this now with the hardware accelerated web experiences around video and video games currently available. Going further than that I believe in the near future we can edit, transcode and render video in the browser as well? When you dive deep into where this is going its clear that any computing done locally on the PC can someday also be done in the cloud.

The biggest thing in Javascript’s favor that is the main point to why I think its the language for the future is because it is cross platform. Because of the importance of the web and the browser every connected device in the future will have access to it. Which means it will work on every connected device regardless of the underlying platform. This is a huge value proposition for developers. When you can write a quality piece of software and not have to port it to every platform you can write once and it will truly run every where.

Google’s Chromebook commercial was classic because it ended with the statement “Ready when you are.” So, the real question is when are ready?

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