Chrome Dodges Antitrust, Could Be Future OS

by on September 2, 2008 · 6 comments

To follow-up on my post from this morning I should note that Google Chrome immediately asks you  which search engine you’d like to use upon installing, conveniently providing users with a chance to use something other than their default search engine and dodging potential complaints about the browser from Microsoft.

Speaking of Redmond, Ballmer and Co. may need to fear Chrome not as a browser, but as a new computing platform.  Michael Arrington writes on this at TechCrunch in a post which gets right to the heart of the matter.  Check out “Meet Chrome, Google’s Windows Killer” in which Arrington shows us how Chrome combined with Gears makes for a platform that can allows OS to fade into the background.

I for one am skeptical that we’re anywhere near cloud computing being practical for anything other than the lightest of tasks.  Google Docs simply doesn’t compare to Office, but I don’t think it’s trying to as many will claim.  I use the service, along with several other “cloud” computing programs, but I use them in addition to my local apps, not as a substitute for them.  See John C. Dvorak for more reasons why cloud applications stink.

The funny thing about all of this is that Microsoft might be losing its “monopoly” power in the OS market not from a competing OS like Apple’s OSX or even from some Linux-based windows clone, but instead from layering over the OS with something that takes advantages of the decentralized nature of the web.  Folks at the Department of Justice and the FTC should pause before they decide to fine and restrict a company like Microsoft because an innovation like Chrome—if it is what people like Arrington say it is—are simply inevitable and companies that become the majority platform, like Microsoft, eventually can’t keep up.

This shows that legal definitions of “markets” rarely make any sense. The OS market may be turned on its ear by a company that started out in search. This proves that competition doesn’t always come from head-on, but from odd angles as technologies converge and diverge.

That’s why competition is like a Velociraptor. If I may quote Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park (the movie version):

But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that’s when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two ‘raptors you didn’t even know were there.

Microsoft isn’t going to be attacked by Apple or Linux, but from the OS-killer it didn’t even know was there.

Previous post:

Next post: