(Reuters) – Google Inc’s new Chrome PC may meet with chilly demand from China as tensions between Beijing and the search giant curb the latter’s offerings and as netbook sales slowly fall off the cliff in the world’s second largest PC market.
Google’s laptops, promote Web-centric computing where people use online applications instead of software loaded onto PCs, are expected to ship in the middle of next year. But the focus on cloud computing and Google’s tussle with Beijing earlier this year over censorship and hacking could make it difficult for the operating system to replicate the success of Google’s mobile Android system in China. Analysts expect Google’s Android mobile operating system to become the dominant mobile OS in the future in China. Currently ZTE Corp, Lenovo and the Chinese telcos have released and sold thousands of Android smartphones in the Chinese market. Yet analysts don’t see a similar take off for the Chrome PC.
“Chrome may be as strong as Android from a technology perspective but from a user behavior standpoint, the adoption of netbooks is losing momentum,” said Felix Liu, an IDC analyst based in Beijing.
Netbooks are smaller, cheaper laptops that are designed for portability and web-surfing. Although Google’s laptops aren’t sold as netbooks, they will be in competition given its focus on the Internet and portability. Chrome adoption in China may be slow because of pricey 3G data plans in the country and the fact that many of Google’s cloud products such as Google Docs and its photo editor are occasionally inaccessible in China.
“There is no guarantee that any of those services will be continually available in China. In the middle of 2010, some people were dumping their Gmail accounts because they were afraid they would lose those accounts due to the government’s unexpected behavior,” Liu said.