Google recently launched a notebook called the CR-48 to test the market. What is unique about this is that it is exclusively driven by the Chrome internet browser. It does not use a regular operating system and you do everything through the built-in browser. You cannot do things like copy and paste a file on the "desktop" by simple right-click options. So far, the concept has not made big waves yet.
One magazine review I have read says that this idea is bound to fail. Who would want to give up all the conveniences of a regular operating system and still have any internet browser you wish? Wouldn't that be a step backwards?
The same writer probably thought that the iPad would fail when it was first introduced. At that time I wrote in my blog that the iPad is reaching into a market that is still unexplored (disregarding Microsoft's dismal failure with PC tablets, which were actually regular PC's on a slate). In a similar way, the CR-48 concept is reaching into un-marketed territory. There is potential for the lightweight Chrome browser (not just the CR-48 notebook) to find its way into the TV set of every living room. It could reside in a set top type of device and turn every TV set into an internet access terminal. Or it could be incorporated into the TV itself.
The Chrome browser has a higher aim than to simply browse the internet. Together with cloud computing, it could potentially do away with the familiar OS altogether. It will be easier to learn and easier to maintain. A computer like the CR-48 takes just 10 sec to boot from sleep, and is instant-on from standby mode. The computer acts like an appliance; you don't need to know how the OS operates. You just see the browser interface. If I am not mistaken, you can't do any maintenance work like cleaning up the desktop, running virus checks, defrag, etc.
In time to come, the personal computer may not be so "personal" anymore. Digital content will eventually reside in the computer cloud. One can then access his work seamlessly from any internet access terminals. A Chrome-based portal is simply helping to hasten that change as it weans users away from OS-based operations to app-based operations. Apple Computer started the trend with the iPad; Google is going to finish it off (and Microsoft?) with the Chrome. If Microsoft still thinks that Chrome is just another browser, it can be forgiven for thinking that the iPad is just another PC tablet.