Ian Hardenburgh offers his take on what the Chrome browser coming to Android devices means to Google's overarching goal of furthering Google Apps adoption in the enterprise.
In my recent post entitled, "How does Google intend to compete with Microsoft in the cloud?", I spoke to the Chrome web browser/operating system as being Google's basis for competing with the likes of Microsoft, amongst other IaaS type cloud providers. Considering their SaaS-oriented cloud strategy, I also mentioned how Google has to make up for lost time in terms of the enterprise's back office, since Microsoft has a strong foothold over the productivity software market, not to mention their ability to run legacy systems in the cloud with the VM Role. Therefore, if Google and Chrome are to be successful, they'll need to build a highly available framework to run their application stack.
With the recent announcement that the Chrome browser is coming to Android phones, and assuming there are no major bug concerns, Google takes a big step toward a completely on-demand cloud offering, even in its goal to compete in the enterprise resource planning or business software arena.
Most consumers know Chrome simply as just another web browser. However, for Google, it's a means for operating system independence, as is indicated through Google's Chromebook. Arguably the world's first out-and-out netbook, Chromebook instantaneously connects users to the Chrome web browser at logon. The Chrome OS has been good for the mobile consumer, as the devices it is installed on are lightweight, have long battery life, and are both Wi-Fi and 3G enabled. For the enterprise, the Chromebook is also a low-cost, easy-to-support computing device for connecting to Google Apps, a hub for intuitive business communication and output. Now, with the Android Chrome release, Chrome, as an extensible web browser with the ability to be served across virtually any computing device, taps itself into the smartphone and tablet market as well. When taking into account how pervasive smartphones and tablets have become in everyday consumer life, as well as in the enterprise, Google has seen the need to compete with the iPad. Something Google needs to make the argument, however, that Chrome is not just for playing Angry Birds. It's also for mobile enterprise workers.
Imagine a highly mobile organization such as a sales force. Aside from a few middle-level managers and executives who remain in a centralized office, most company sales people spend the entirety of their day on the road, with customers, or traveling to and fro from customer sites. With limited time in front a traditional PC, it's still important that these mobile workers have the same access to email and the company CRM. With Chrome-enabled Android devices, each sales rep can receive email via a very familiar Chrome-based Gmail interface, just as they might use on a PC or Chromebook, as well as fill-out vital sales data into a Google Apps-integrated CRM, as provided by one of many CRM solutions listed under the Google Apps Marketplace.
The scenarios for a mobile Chrome on Android are endless for the enterprise. Furthermore, these prospects will be even more substantiated by the promise of remote syncing capabilities, where one's browsing history can be shared with other instances of Chrome. Chrome's instinctive UI stands to bring an uniformity and familiarity to enterprises, similar to what Microsoft has accomplished with its Office suite of software. Although much needs to be done to ensure that both the Chrome web browser and the devices it's installed upon work seamlessly, as well as to ensure that the SaaS applications they provide in the cloud remain highly available, Google has now rounded-out its framework for ultimately delivering Google Apps anywhere.