Before we have all the expected rants pro and anti Google's Chrome OS, perhaps we should first ask the question, "How do we compute, now and soon?"
For those of us who spend much or most (let's bet honest here) of our time on the web, a new interface and a new way to write applications and interact with the web might be a powerful enabler to users and developers alike. But for those who mainly interact with desk-top applications or data on company systems, Chrome may be nothing but an interesting but largely irrelevant idea.
The question, of course, is how many of each of us are there and what does the trend line look like? Greatly influencing this, of course, is the surge of cloud computing and the rush to put as many applications as possible into the cloud. Like all reactions to new technologies, this rush will cool down after a bit and we will sort out which kinds of applications work best on-line and which continue to work best in a desk top or company server mode.
Of course, if we include consumers in these calculations (including ourselves in our consumer mode), the off-line usage soars. It's hard to sit in your home office looking something up on your home computer when all the action is in the family room around the big TV screen. Already, I walk around my home (an eight-room condo the size of a fairly large house) with a netbook and have more netbooks and laptops strategically stashed, all connected with a wireless network. I'm getting ready to give them a little server to share for shared data like address books, to do lists, and lists of music sites.
Many users are developing that "good enough" mentality (with regard to selecting cloud-based products over richer-featured and better supported desktop products) and if Chrome offers them features that are hard to replicate in land-based computers, that may be enough to push things in a cloud-based direction, for many users.
But remember that everyone will not go rushing off to the cloud for every application. Certainly not now and perhaps not ever.