Google wants to do precisely to the computer operating system market what it did to smartphones with Android and has revealed the Chromebit, a HDMI and Wi-Fi device that converts any screen into a Chrome OS computer.
Google’s Chrome OS is a sturdy OS that runs very much like its popular Chrome web browser and up until now has appeared mainly in the form of the Chromebook, manufactured in turns by Asus and Samsung and HP has dabbled in the use of the OS.
But everything could be about to change. The Chromebit is made by Asus and will sell for less than US$100, comes in three colours (blue, grey and orange) and which is smaller than a candy bar.
The device features a swivel feature that lets it fit behind screens and by simply plugging into any device it becomes a computer running Chrome OS.
Google is targeting the device at consumers, businesses and the education market.
Once the device is plugged into a display users can instantly use it to check Gmail, watch YouTube and get productive via Google Docs and Google Drive.
The device will no doubt compete with the Intel Computer Stick, a US$150 HDMI device that packs Windows 8.1.
Chinese manufacturers have also been selling Chrome OS dongle devices based on the samne Rockchip RK3288 processor that powers the Chromebit.
As well as the Chromebit, Google also launched the new Asus Chromebook Flip, an all metal ultra-portable device that is just 15mm thin and weighs under two pounds.
The device, a cross between a laptop computer and a tablet, will sell for US$249.
Google also announced a pair of US$149 Chromebooks from Hisense and Haier that are aimed at the education market.
While the market for notebook computers has been struggling, the smartphone or sole tablet won’t replace the notebook or desktop as people’s preferred mode of productivity any time soon.
The market is currently dominated by Microsoft’s Windows platform, about to move to Windows 10, while Apple has been making serious inroads into the notebook space with devices like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro running Mac OS X.
It is unlikely that Chrome OS poses a threat to the Microsoft and Apple hegemony any time soon, but it does bode an interesting future for computing as we know it – versatile device that allow you to be productive or entertained anywhere, anytime and on any screen.