Insights and opinions on Information Technology from George Tomko, a veteran CIO turned renegade consultant.


Are you 'Chrome'd-out?

google-logoBy George M. Tomko

This is about the 20 millionth blog post or article that has been written with some reaction to last week’s *new* Google Chrome OS announcement. For the most part, it was a surprise announcement – mostly because it was not leaked to the press.

I have posted about Google in a mostly positive light (“Google: No brag, just fact”; “What’s the Thing with Bing?”) but I do not own any Google stock or have any financial interest whatsoever, directly or indirectly. And, my point-of-view is going to be widely different than most of what is out there. Since I am not wedded to any particular technology, all I have to ask is, why would or should I care (as a CIO, consultant, consumer, etc.)?

I have read some great posts (PC Mag’s Michael Miller;’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols) that have really thought out and carefully presented the author’s arguments in the following major categories: 1) Microsoft killer; 2) Linux killer; 3) gives Google the keys to the world; 4) is it really ‘open’;  5) is this really ‘new’? All good questions and perspectives, but the answers don’t really mean much.

So, to the fundamental question: why would I (or you) care? I guess I would care if it changed my (or your) life in some way or another, positively or negatively. So, if I am a CIO, I might be concerned about this throwing a monkey-wrench into my carefully thought out strategic technology plan.

Maybe I was planning on rolling out Windows 7. But, now, I might be worried that I am going to be playing the IT version of the game “52 card pick-up”.

Now, as a consultant, I might welcome all of this uncertainty. Consultants get rich when there is a lot of head-scratching going on and someone has to come in and tell the folks what to do.

As a technologist, I might be fuming (or celebrating) that this is going to be marginalizing the good work of the open source community and related foundations that have coordinated and sponsored projects to get some cohesion in a smaller set of more robust Linux distros. Why might I be upset? With Google “branding” and financial might, they might be a force that pulls from, rather than nurtures, the continuing development of mainstream (read Ubuntu) Linux. On the other hand, I might now have many more opportunities to work on the newest of the new things.

As a consumer, I can already get a netbook with Linux and OS X on a Mac, will there be something magical that happens with new product capabilities?

Naw. Bottom line is that the CIO will move forward, as planned.  The technologists will have spirited debates like they always do and groups will splinter off – as they always do. As a consumer, I’ll just be wondering what new feature I will get to pay for in some new gadget.

At the end of the day, it is all about innovation, competition and all the things that need to keep happening to advance the state-of-the-art and either create new value or steal more share of what is already there. Microsoft still stands out in the ‘crowd’. Of course, that ‘crowd’ is becoming one of more or less equals.

And I never, ever, thought that Java would be an Oracle product.

So things change.

And that is exactly what we want. Without it, we still might be running Windows 98 SE. There is so much stuff out there, it will be decades of disruption before the things we talk about now are as ho-hum and boring as telephones, flushing toilets and electricity.

Until then, it will be like Al Bernstein once said, “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.”

©2009 George M. Tomko All Rights Reserved