Gina Trapani makes an interesting point on her site Smarterware.org.
Here’s another difference between Apple and Google: Apple makes beautiful computers, and Google makes computers disposable. Check out this ChromeOS commercial. I actually recoiled watching the coffee, toaster, sink, and ice cream sundae land on the notebooks in this video and destroy them. Zero data loss is great, but I also love keeping and caring for devices I love.
The ad is highly cringe-worthy. To save you the 5+ minutes of your life, it features a guy working on a flier for a lost cat (why is it always about cats?). He works “in the cloud.” Every time he completes a task, something insanely destructive happens to his Chrome Netbook — doused in liquid nitrogen and then impaled with a spike, a child dumps an ice cream sundae on the keyboard — and presto, another machine appears. The point is that the data is still there because it is “in the cloud.”
I don’t see this as an Apple/Google thing; for me it’s more about a culture that encourages chucking old stuff and getting something new. Apple is very guilty of this; look at the way iPod batteries crap out just in time for the new models to arrive. Not saying this is a conspiracy, but most people I know with iPods say that it’s a given that the battery will eventually stop working and they’ll just buy a new device. I still have a lot of my old computers — partly because I’m a packrat who digs old electronics (a bad combination, especially in a Manhattan apartment), and partly because I’m unwilling to simply throw them in the trash, and therefore must wait for an opportunity to recycle the damn things.
Also worth noting is that the idea of “data in the cloud” is not remotely a new one. There is the old model of dumb terminals of course, and also the fact that everything the cat-flier-maker is doing in the video can be done RIGHT NOW on ANY COMPUTER. If the Chrome OS is simply a front-end for Google Apps, that’s actually very retro. Reminds me of skins you could buy to run on top of DOS. If Chrome OS boots instantly (or even fairly quickly) that would be handy. But the point of the commercial seems to be “hey! If I use Google Docs, I can get to my data even if my laptop gets destroyed!” And that’s just not a new idea.