Chrome OS

google-chrome-logoSteve was asking about my take on the Google Chrome OS announcement and to be honest it’s pretty clear to me. Google makes a lot of money from the web. Using AdSense they can monetize not only search keywords and their own sites, but any site on the web by detecting the context of the page. They have however done about as much as they can do as far as exponential growth goes. Their market share is so huge that you don’t search, you google for it – and just about every large site or blog that wants ads has got them.

So what to do? Either increase profit per ad, or the total number of ads/views. Incremental improvements in AdSense context/keyword detection mean that advertisers are willing to pay more for each impression as click through rates and ultimately conversions increase but this is a slow and inexact science. So how about user volume and page impressions? As we’ve said, people can’t be forced to google more than they already do so we need to get more people online in the first place. So, naturally, the thought is of mobile. But hang on, all the stuff that makes money on the desktop doesn’t work! AdSense doesn’t get enough data for targeting. There isn’t room on search result pages to put the same ads. The “landing pages” or sites that advertisers what to drive their users to do not work on mobile. Users don’t want to click due to data costs, etc. It’s a nightmare and after a little dabbling they have not really done anything special.

So, if you can’t do mobile advertising then what do you do to get more users?

1. Make mobile like the desktop.

You could develop your own mobile platform which had the capacity to consume desktop ads and render desktop sites. You could even call it Android.

2. Make sure that natural desktop growth continues in your favour.

In the past some companies have tried to fix the odds. Pre-installing your own software, say Internet Explorer, to crush a competitors platform would be one example. Lobbying standards bodies to approve specifications that play to your strengths is another. If you built your own browser, say Chrome, which was good enough to capture a sizable chunk of the market then you would need to pay less to make your search engine the default and you’d be able to ensure that standards, such as HTML5 , worked well across ALL browsers.

3. Make computers cheaper.

For people that want a smaller, cheaper computer there is the growing netbook market. My father in law as an Eee-PC and I have to say it’s pretty good. It has a decent browser, a built in webcam and runs Skype. But, and it’s a serious but, the Linux O/S is unforgiving. It looks techy, OpenOffice is bizarre at times, and needs the user to resort to a terminal window for certain operations. My father in law used to code in C, he can cope, but I don’t think my mother could. If you were to make a better O/S for these netbooks, with a decent browser and some well polished apps, you could call it Chrome OS, then you would finally open this market to the masses.

So there you go. Three solid ways that you could increase the number of Internet users that can access the proper, desktop, web. I say good news for anyone building for the full web – and particularly for HTML5 – just not if you want to compete in the search space.

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