Potential Impact of Google Play store on Chromebooks / Chrome OS

So at Google I/O 2016 Chrome OS team finally announced, the long awaited, Google Play Store on Chrome OS. Google originally made this announcement 2 years ago at Google I/O 2014 keynote. I’m baffled that completion of this 3 year long project did not make the I/O Keynote. I think its a huge deal for both Chrome OS and Google Play Store and will have fairly long term implications. I do really wanna discuss this years keynote too since I didn’t quite understand basis what criteria things were included as I feel lots of more exciting things were left out. Anyways for the intents for this blog I wanna talk about Google Play Store on Chrome OS and its impact as i see it.

The Play Store is more than just apps. It includes Movies, Music, Books, Magazines and all this content is now available on Chrome OS along with the native apps built to experience it. So i wanna dissect this and look at 3 different aspects, namely, how this impacts Chrome OS, the impact on Android App Ecosystem and how this affects developers and android app development in general.

Kindly excuse my use of Chromebooks and Chrome OS interchangeably throughout this post.

Impact on Chrome OS

Chrome OS had rather humble beginnings. Conceived and released as purely a cloud OS and for all intents and purposes it still is today. With Google bringing in Android Play store to Chrome OS it makes Chromebooks immensely more attractive than cheaper windows laptop alternatives.

I wont bring Apple iPad’s into this conversation since I don’t consider the iPad a legitimate laptop replacement device (yes iPad Pro neither). To me this is mainly because of the inherent limitations of the iOS platform, but again that discussion is for a separate blog post.

Coming back to Chromebooks/ Chrome OS, what Google has managed to do with this move is provide Chrome OS one of the biggest app ecosystems in existence. Chromebooks now have 1.5 million apps, including games, productivity apps, health apps and everything in between. This firstly makes Chromebooks a way better option than most cheap windows laptops as this fills the biggest hole in the platform, Native Apps. Chrome OS now has more diversity and quantity of apps available that would, from early reports, work flawlessly.

Another thing to consider is that since Chromebooks are tied to your google account the same way your Android device is, all your notifications and changes sync across devices. This opens the door for Apple like integration where you can take calls from your Chromebooks, reply to sms and start editing documents or email on you phone and switch to your Chromebook or vice versa seamlessly. When this comes to pass remains to be seen. I would assume it’ll be sooner rather than later.

Another thing to note is Chromebooks are updated and patched every 6 weeks directly by Google unlike Android. So Google can push the latest android updates and features to Chromebooks pretty much at Nexus pace. I can easily imagine a world where your Chromebook will have newer Android features before your phone does.

Needless to say this move makes Chromebooks a viable option for everyday consumer that would previously not seriously consider buying and using them, me being one of them.

Impact on Android App Ecosystem

Android App Ecosystem has 3 big problems right now which this could potentially improve. Firstly the relative fewer number of tablet optimized apps, lack of good productivity apps and app piracy. The first 2 are cited as a big issues with Android platform when comparing any android tablet to Apple’s iPad. Now with Chromebooks coming into the picture the number of big screen devices that developers can target grow’s a significant amount and with it the incentive to bring optimized apps to the Android/Chrome OS platform. I would expect to see a lot of android tablet/Chromebook optimized apps coming to Play store.

This shift will further be helped if Google plugs the piracy hole in Android as it brings the Play store to Chrome OS. This can easily be done by Google refusing to let users install apps from outside Google Play store. Since Google has complete control on Chrome OS I don’t see this as something difficult to accomplish. This significantly helps Play store app sales numbers and again makes the platform a lot more attractive to developers. Also any long time android users who has already bought a plethora of apps has access to those apps on the Chromebook and anyone who has pirated apps from 3rd party stores has an incentive to buy them from the Play store.

This also provides a massive incentive for developers to quickly adopt newer Android API’s since all Chromebooks will support the latest greatest features pretty much as soon as Google makes them available on Android. As the number of Chromebooks grow the number of devices running the latest version of Android immediately post release with get a boost.

I did not address the impact on developers explicitly here but by this point I’ve repeatedly mentioned the increased revenue potential from Play store.

I you think I’ve missed out on something or if your opinions differ feel free to reach out or leave a comment below.

Find me at www.reallylazy.me

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