Marketing Lessons from Google's Chrome OS Beta

Christopher Haddad
Christopher Haddad



A few weeks ago I filled out a form hosted by Google to sign up to test out a Chrome OS beta laptop. Last week, when I got home from the HubSpot holiday party, I had a laptop sitting on my porch waiting for me. I promised to spend as much of my life as possible using Chrome OS, and figured a great way to do so would be passing along some insights I’ve noticed with the whole program.

Chrome OS

Search is Critical

This laptop doesn’t have a caps lock key. Its got a search button. Combined with the “AwesomeBar” that Chrome has (unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox, there is no separate search box), a person is a single keystroke away from starting a search to answer their next question or desire.

Sometimes it Takes a Brick to See Real Innovation

Chrome OS is an interesting divergence from the traditional model of an operating system. Generally speaking, since the dawn of the home computing era, we've become used to the concept windows and folders, and a desktop to organize them. With all the releases that we have seen for Windows and Macintosh OS, the core concepts have remained untouched in over 20 years. And then there is Chrome OS. I’ve found the quickest way to describe Chrome OS is this statement: “The browser IS the OS”. In the 72 hours that I have had this laptop, I have yet to see a single file or folder. As a user, I've never been exposed to the file system - just the Chrome browser.

Browsers are the New Desktop

While I was filling out form to register for one of the beta laptops, I was thinking to myself “Will I really be able to do it, to let go from my ties to a ‘desktop’ and embrace this?” Yes, there are certainly some things that I just can’t do on this laptop. But at the same time, I’m monumentally impressed at what I’m able to do with just a browser. There is a killer combination of cloud services (Google Docs, HootSuite) and Chrome Apps & Extensions (TweetDeck, Pandora, Evernote). which combine to serve about 90% of my computing needs. For that last 10% - coding, heavy photo editing, syncing my iPhone - well, I’ve got another computer for that. But Chrome OS isn’t designed to be your one true operating system - this is for the lightweight, long lasting laptop that you use to surf from the couch, or take on vacation. Honestly, next time I go on vacation, this Cr-48 is coming with me.

Marketing Takeaways

Plan for the web. If you’re trying to figure out whether you should make an App for iOS, Andriod, FireFox, or whatever - stop right now. Go HTML5 . That will save you a ton of time, and will work on all of these platforms. Then you can further tailor the experience based on devices.

Plan for search. While the Chrome browser has long had the AwesomeBar, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other major browser players start combining the address bars and search bars. Users are going to be searching more - are you certain that you are getting found organically?

Release early and iterate. I don’t have the release version of Chrome OS in my hands. I have a preview, running on some proprietary test hardware. I signed up, and asked for the chance to use Chrome OS as my primary machine, and Google granted that chance. Look around at your products and services, is there something that you have cooking that won’t be ready for another couple of months? Now would be the best time to ask your best customers if they’d like to try something new and exciting (with the full understanding that it just might not work).

If you have any questions about the Chrome OS and the laptop, feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
Photo Credit: þä½

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