NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As you surely have heard by now, Android is under new management atGoogle (GOOG). The leadership of Chrome OS is now in charge of Android.This is a positive development, but not for the reason you have heardto date.Let's get this out of the way first: What you may have heardspeculated about in the tech press is that Chrome OS and Android OSwill merge. They will not. Let me explain why, after which we canget into the interesting part, the part that's actually going tohappen. Merging two operating systems is essentially impossible, in the senseof picking half the code base from OS A and half from OS B, and thenslapping them together. It's genetically impossible, sort of likemating a donkey with a parrot. What they really mean is that one operating system -- Android -- willessentially take over Chrome OS -- or vice versa. That could happen,although for reasons I will explain, the hurdle for that to happen isextremely high, and would require a tremendous amount of time andeffort. Perhaps in 2015 or 2016.
For starters, Android and Chrome OS are focused on different usecases. 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 typingexperience. There is a reason the traditional laptop format has notchanged in over 20 years: It's basic human physics. Chrome OS is for people who actually have to work. Yes, despite arecord low labor participation rate in modern times, a few Americansstill have a job to do. Android is optimized for touchscreens, and they are, in turn, dominantin the smartphone form factor as well as tablets. The objects on thescreen need to be different and be spaced apart differently if youare using your fingers instead of a touchpad or mouse pointer on a PC. Once you are in the tablet category, you can start talking abouttablet-PC convertibles. A tablet screen can be used both as a largesmartphone and as screen for a laptop. Combining a touch interfacewith a "traditional PC" interface has been proven difficult, however.For evidence, I offer Windows 8, which most people thus far view aninterface failure.
Let's say you bought a Samsung Nexus S in the second quarter of 2011.That was the state of the art Android phone at the time. Are yourunning the latest version of Android today? No, you aren't. WhenAndroid got 4.2 in November 2012, you were left behind at 4.1 and youwill never get 4.2 or above. There are numerous examples of this in the Android world. How manyAndroid smartphones or tablets that you bought in the last one to three yearswere running version 2.3, 3.0, 3.2 or 4.0 when you bought it, but willnever get 4.0, 4.1 or 4.2 -- let alone the soon-to-arrive 5.0? Theanswer is: most of them. In fact, in most cases Android smartphones have failed to stay "fresh"in terms of software for more than 18 months, plus or minus. Therehas been a tremendous short-sightedness in the Android food chain forkeeping the customer happy over time. One couldn't be faulted forbelieving the worst from Google, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and allthe rest: They just want to sell you a device that might get onesoftware update, and then it's forgotten. Want the latest software?Buy a new device 18 months later. Or sometimes less.