Point-of-Sale Decked out with Chrome

In 2004 Google left the comforts of search and advertising to try its hand at web-based email. The success of that product was followed by Google Talk, an instant messenger, and Google Docs, a web-based word processor and spreadsheet. In 2008 Google released its Chrome browser, at which point it had matched Microsoft's major products, except one. So today Google announced its upcoming Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system for PCs.

google-chrome-logo.jpgThe initial target is netbooks, and the OS will be very lean, relying mostly on the browser to access applications. Others can decided if its possible to completely abandon Microsoft and rely solely on Google products. My questions is, can this stack work for a point-of-sale?

If you talk to any retail chain of substantial size, they'll tell you that at least one store is offline at any given time -- more likely its a handful. That's just the nature of wide-area-networks today, and while I'm sure it will continue to improve, it will never be perfect. So its paramount that a POS be able to sell while offline, and relying on a browser is risky.

I realize there exists point-of-sale products that do just that: they are web-based and rely on being online. They make use of AJAX and unique peripheral drivers to make it work. If you're in a retail business where you need a connection to activate products, like wireless providers, then that could be a fit. But if you're "scanning and bagging," then some resiliency is necessary.

I suppose Google Gears addresses this concern, but I haven't seen a POS based on Gears yet. If you know of one, let me know. It would be interesting to understand that approach.

So from the retail perspective, I think the forthcoming Google Chrome OS is just another Linux distribution in an already crowded market. Because the Google name is attached means its positioned for success, but not necessarily for cash registers.

Comments:

Interesting article. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that "[Google] had matched Microsoft's major products". It depends what you mean by "matched". Most of those products that you cite are far from being true competitors with Microsoft's line of products, at least at their current stage of development.

Best,
Andy
http://invoc.net

Posted by Andy on July 10, 2009 at 03:18 PM CDT #

Andy, ok - the statement was a bit of a stretch, "matched" being the wrong word. But it seems clear that Google's roadmap is aligned against Microsoft. While Google seems to have an alternate offering for many of the MS products, they've not "matched" the depth of functionality. I'm not ready to give up Office yet, but I can imagine it in the future.

BTW, I really think there's room for both Linux and WEPOS in the POS market (http://blogs.oracle.com/retail/2008/10/wepos_or_linux_1.html). Competition is always a good thing.

Posted by David on July 13, 2009 at 03:03 AM CDT #

I think Google Chrome OS will be a great operating system if it will have support for Windows-style programs. It should be mostly files in the cloud accessed though the browser, but Google can't forget what Western Digital makes 2TB hard drives for.

Posted by Dave on March 29, 2010 at 04:09 PM CDT #

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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