ON CHROME OS: is there a point to all this?

Just a quick note on yesterday’s Chrome OS reveal by Google. Unless I’m missing something, there’s nothing new under the covers here. It seems as if the whole point of the “OS” is to provide a stripped down device-like environment for hosting a web browser. Essentially, all the “apps” are Google’s Cloud-based offerings. There must be a vertical play here, otherwise why would Google go through all of the trouble of creating a complete stack for what we can essentially get today? What I’m not seeing is the strategic vision of offering Chrome OS for devices when variations on Android will play in the same space. Remember folks, Android OS is not necessarily just for phones and, in fact, has begun turning up in non-phone applications as well. I do see a potential competitive space opening up between Chrome OS, Ubuntu’s Netbook remix and Moblin for tablet-ish devices. A major differentiator being Google’s support of Gears for offline access to data and Ubuntu’s increasing use of CouchDB as a data repository –both on the device and in it’s own branded cloud offerings. Being a fan of Damien Katz and IBM (CouchDB’s creator and corporate sponsor, respectively) through my Lotus connection (Damien redesigned the Notes formula language engine back in the R6 timeframe) as well as my fondness for the Ubuntu distro, you could say I’m rooting for Ubuntu –if not to outright win, then not to fail. What’s interesting in comparing Gears to CouchDB is that it’s a repeat of the age-old question of whether general-purpose data fits best into a relational or a B-tree/document/hierarchical mold. In a nutshell, there’s not much to see until the whole NetOS/Netbook picture firms up and hardware and software vendors start to bed down to produce tangible product, probably 12-18 months out. Like I said, move along, folks, move along.