The last week or so has seen the rumour of Google phasing out Chrome OS, as they roll the features into Android. Google SVP of Chrome, Android and Chromecast, Hiroshi Lockheimer has already announced via Twitter that Google is committed to ChromeOS, but he’s used the official Google for Work Blog today to reaffirm that commitment, as well as to announce that the long awaited Asus Chromebit will finally be released.
In the blog post, which he titled ‘Chrome OS is here to stay’ Lockheimer spoke about penetration of Chrome OS devices into the market. Though Chromebooks account only for 3.5% of global laptop sales according to IDC, Chromebooks are undisputedly popular in the US education system, as well as making vast inroads in education here in Australia. The low-cost, low-maintenance laptops are a great idea for enterprise and education markets and Google is intending to keep that going, says Lockheimer, so rest assured that Chrome OS isn’t going anywhere at least for now.
As part of his blog, Lockheimer also announced that the Asus Chromebit, the HDMI PC on a stick running Chrome OS, will launch in the ‘next couple of weeks’ for US$85. This launch window slots in well with what we’re hearing from Asus Australia, though we’re yet to be advised about local pricing.
The Chromebit will of course have to compete with Intel’s Compute Stick, which is being sold under various brands with either Linux, or Windows installed on them, from as low as $150AUD, something we hope Asus is mindful of when they price the Chromebit locally.
The reaffirmation of Google’s support of Chrome OS is reassuring for many Chrome OS fans, though what the future will bring is uncertain. Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, told reporters at the TechCrunch summit in Beijing that ‘Technology can move forward where it’s possible you can wrap one into the other’ while speaking about the rumoured merge of Chrome OS and Android.
The recently announced Pixel branded tablet, the Pixel C, running Android, as well as the obvious overwhelming popularity of Android as a platform, have been the biggest triggers for rumours surrounding the demise of Chrome OS. The Pixel C is currently shrouded in an air of secrecy, with proposed 6-weekly updates planned for the tablet, which could spell a broader attempt at improving Android’s implementation on desktop like hardware.
What will happen with Android and Chrome OS over the next year or two remains to be seen. There’s certainly cases to be made for keeping both separate as well as arguments for merging the two – but at this stage, it’s a case of wait and see.