Business, Cloud Computing, Hardware

Google to Launch ChromeOS Netbook: Don?t Be Evil?

Google has two-plus netbooks rumored for release by the 2010 holiday season. Leaked specs for the sub $300 netbooks are: 10.1 inches screen, 64 GB SSD, 2 GB RAM, webcam, USB ports, GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity. More importantly, the netbooks are rumored to be powered by NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform. Multitouch screens with GPS are also planned for high end models. We wentured on to check with our sources to see if this is true or somebody had too much eggnog for Christmas. After receiving an interesting e-mail back, we can say that Tegra 2 is inside for sure but the release date could be earlier than implied in the original breaking story.

nVidia Tegra-based smartbook artist image - with nVidia's own 3D UI currently based on Android OS / Windows MobileGoogle deciding to go with Tegra also might possibly be the Trojan horse that breaks Intel’s dominance in the netbook market. The semiconductor industry looks headed for a shake-up now that the FTC has filed an anti-competitive lawsuit against Intel.

Our friends at X-bit Labs ran a story including this quote: "At CES we are going to make a major announcement about Tegra family. It is highly possible that we will see some very interesting form-factors coming out at the same time. [There will be products] shown by our partners using the next-generation Tegra device. You are going to see roll-outs and deployments of tablet PCs, smartbooks, netbooks, MIDs throughout the first half [of the year]; and then you will see major roll-outs of smartphones in the second half," said Michael Hara, senior vice president of investor relations and communications at Nvidia, at Barclays Technology Conference last week. 

Cracks in Google’s shiny "Don’t be Evil" armor
What makes this story worrisome is the hardware push for Google. Previously, Google was only the service which you may or may not chose to use, but with Google’s phone and smartbook on the way, that might not be the case anymore. Google?s motto is "Don?t Be Evil." Sounds simple enough, right? Google also doesn?t want you to be doing anything wrong either or at least to not be dumb enough to put it on the web, with Google CEO Schmidt telling CNBC?s Baritoromo in an interview: "If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place." How about a person?s online banking password and login credentials? We certainly don?t want to give you our banking info, nor do we want yours. Not all things we want to keep private are criminal [though sadly, there are too many criminals who exploit the Internet] and computer users should be aware of the privacy policies of the various companies and institutions they deal with, with extra attention paid to personal identifiable information.

Disturbing news from the Huffington Post: "He expands on his answer, adding that the your information could be made available not only to curious searchers or prying friends, but also to the authorities, and that there’s little recourse for people worried about unintentionally "oversharing" online?But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And […] we’re all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities." 

Back in the past, Google championed its decision to defend privacy data from former government lead by George W. Bush, but it seems that the company revised its policy when Obama came to power, allowing the government to do the very same thing they were against [in public, at least]. In our opinion the disturbing part is the lack of an opt-out option. The question that remains, what is the level of privacy we are willing to give up for what measure of security; and what can you do to minimize your risk. These questions each person must answer for themselves.

Now, if search engines retain personal data, how much information can be gleaned by the ChromeOS operating system? All sensationalism aside, Microsoft and Apple both collect information about system errors but they ostensibly only collect anonymous data. Now that Microsoft is beefing up its search-engine capabilities with Bing and considering that Google derives 97% of its gross revenues from advertising; make no mistake, Google remains primarily an advertising company despite its recent foray into smartphones and upcoming entry to the sub-notebook market.

There are many pros and cons associated with the news. The question we would like to ask you is; does Google?s nature of being primarily an ad company influence your decision to purchase a netbook from Google positively or negatively? Does the rumored low cost of Google netbooks trump any privacy concerns? What do you think about nVidia’sTegra 2? Will Tegra 2 be a game changer in the semiconductor industry? Please feel free to air out your views and opinions on these topics and any more you feel are relevant.