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TheStreet Open House

How Chrome OS Management Will Improve Android

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As you surely have heard by now, Android is under new management at Google (GOOG). The leadership of Chrome OS is now in charge of Android. This is a positive development, but not for the reason you have heard to date.

Let's get this out of the way first: What you may have heard speculated about in the tech press is that Chrome OS and Android OS will merge. They will not. Let me explain why, after which we can get into the interesting part, the part that's actually going to happen.

Merging two operating systems is essentially impossible, in the sense of picking half the code base from OS A and half from OS B, and then slapping them together. It's genetically impossible, sort of like mating a donkey with a parrot.

What they really mean is that one operating system -- Android -- will essentially take over Chrome OS -- or vice versa. That could happen, although for reasons I will explain, the hurdle for that to happen is extremely high, and would require a tremendous amount of time and effort. Perhaps in 2015 or 2016.


For starters, Android and Chrome OS are focused on different use cases. Chrome OS is a traditional PC, where you type all day long. If you type all day long, you cannot make a compromise in the typing experience. There is a reason the traditional laptop format has not changed in over 20 years: It's basic human physics.

Chrome OS is for people who actually have to work. Yes, despite a record low labor participation rate in modern times, a few Americans still have a job to do.

Android is optimized for touchscreens, and they are, in turn, dominant in the smartphone form factor as well as tablets. The objects on the screen need to be different and be spaced apart differently if you are using your fingers instead of a touchpad or mouse pointer on a PC.

Once you are in the tablet category, you can start talking about tablet-PC convertibles. A tablet screen can be used both as a large smartphone and as screen for a laptop. Combining a touch interface with a "traditional PC" interface has been proven difficult, however. For evidence, I offer Windows 8, which most people thus far view an interface failure.

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