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Hardware Vendors Not As Chrome-Planted As Google Says

My colleague Michael Hickins and I have been going back and forth on this blog about Chrome OS. His last post about that followed the Google line about just whom Google had lined up, including HP, Lenovo, Asustek and others. But as Dan Nystedt at Computerworld noted today, if you talk to the PC vendors, many sound far less committed than the impression Google's blog entry gives.

In short, many of the vendors are saying that they are evaluating the software, but have made no commitments. In the words of someone from HP, that company is "studying" the new operating system. Lenovo said roughly the same thing, hanging its decision on what it brings customers "more product choice and capabilities in terms of features and technologies."

Given what I know of the PC business, this makes a lot of sense. There may be no payment to Google for using Chrome, but that is hardly the only issue for them. It comes down to what the vendors don't want:

  • hardware design problems and limitations
  • customer support problems that could come back to haunt them
  • consumer indifference
It may be that they will all cotton to Chrome OS, but it's far from a given. This is a business with tight margins, and saving a few dollars on software doesn't help if the cost comes back in support, or, even worse, the sales never happen at all. Given that the OS is not due until sometime next year, and given production cycles for vendors, I wouldn't expect real decision on this to happen until, at soonest, the end of this year and, more likely, into the first quarter of 2010.
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