Google is planning to make a significant push into both the consumer market and especially the enterprise market with its Chromebook cloud-based laptops, Sundar Pichai told the crowd at GigaOM Structure Wednesday in San Francisco. In an interview with Om Malik, the Chrome VP told attendees that Google Apps have opened the door to the cloud for both individual users and companies, and Chromebooks and Google Drive are designed to be a natural extension of that. Although Pichai said he was concerned about the fracturing of the cloud market into a series of competing ecosystems, he said Google is the only player that has been built from the ground up to provide an end-to-end cloud model for both businesses and consumers.
Pichai said that one of the biggest factors driving cloud adoption, particularly in the enterprise market, is the growth of mobile and the evolution of the “bring your own device” model within companies, where users can adopt whatever phones or tablets or even laptops they want and corporate IT departments are expected to provide whatever is necessary to deal with that. When cloud computing first began, said Pichai, “people primarily used it with a single client, the PC, and they were tethered to one computer — their files were all there, and they were tied to that.” Now, most people have multiple devices, and when it comes to providing a consistent experience across them all, “the only way to do it is the cloud,” he said.
The Chromebook experience, Pichai said, is a natural extension of this approach, and it results in a much more efficient experience for users because of the way the Google model takes advantage of the cloud:
I don’t think there’s any other model of computing which has been designed from the ground up to be stateless and involve zero administration… we assume that IT doesn’t need to touch the device, so you can take a thousand Chromebooks and hand them out to users without having to worry about it.
When asked about the competing “silos” or cloud ecosystems that Microsoft and Amazon are building, Pichai said he was hopeful the future would see the development of APIs that would allow for interoperability between the various players. “That’s the holy grail of consumer web services in general,” Pichai said, and at a core level the web is open and interoperable by design, “but as you talk about authentication and payment, you start to get more centralized and it starts to become about ecosystems.”
Over the next six months, Pichai said that Google would be making a much bigger push for Chromebook into the enterprise market in particular. Corporate users take a long time to invest in new technologies, he said, but “the thing that will seed the market for us is Google Apps.” The Google VP said that the number of signups for Google Apps is still growing by triple-digit percentages rates, and that the company sees that as opening the door for a Chromebook-based model at more and more companies.