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When Google decided to no longer support the H.264 video format stating patent issues one of the biggest questions I heard being asked was "Why not Flash?". Also, when Apple decided not to support Flash the Android market made the fact that it will support Flash one of it's marketing points. I believe, as far as Google is concerned, Apple couldn't have done them a bigger favor. Many people are looking at the little battles, but missing the war. The dark horse is ChromeOS. 

Google released it's Chrome Web Store recently. While many people squawk about them using the "install" term which I already explained, it is a great site for discovering web apps.  Google's vision of the future of computing relies heavily on web apps.  Especially with it's ChromeOS operating system.  Many of these web apps, need Flash to run.  This is why, Flash is getting baked in to Chrome.  Embracing this technology gets only helps to coax users toward their vision of the future.

 

Do you see??? Do you see??? No, not yet?  Ok, let's continue....
ChromeOS is geared towards several different markets, all of which make up a huge sections of the consumer base:
  • Parents who want a cheap computer for their kids to surf the internet and do their homework, that CAN'T get infected with viruses.
  • Older people don't want to deal with keeping a system up to date and scanned for viruses
  • Business that want laptops for their employees that are super affordable, can't get infected by viruses and employees can't install crap on.  Most of which use an internal web based intranet portal anyways
  • Anybody else that wants a cheap computer, one or even two for every room, like TVs today, that are safe secure and can't be infected.
Even if they only have one "real" computers in the household they can have several ChromeOS devices throughout the house.  Everything is web based and syncs so that moving to that "real" computer to download and print a PDF or whatever, is seamless.  Just log in using Chrome and all your stuff is available to you.
I know that prices haven't been revealed yet, but I have heard Google employees, during talks refer to them as "disposable" machines for business.  Where you don't even troubleshoot or fix them, if one breaks, just dispose of it and replace it.  Remember, everything is sync'd to the cloud so as soon as you enter your credentials it's like your on the same machine... in like 3 minutes, not half a day.  How's that for TCO.  
Now for the revelation....
So you have these web apps that you found in the Chrome Web Store, that you can use on those cheap ChromeOS devices, and on your regular computer or your parent's computer or neighbors computer..... and on your Android Tablet... even on your Android phone.... in fact you can use them everywhere.... EXCEPT on the iPad!!!  And given Apple's adamant statements about Flash, that isn't going to happen anytime soon.  
Even further....
All your web apps are sync'd to your Google account, so it's not too far off to bet you'll start seeing those web app links show up as icons on those Android tablets.  Move seamlessly from one device to the next.  Hell, I haven't done any Android development yet, but if they don't do it I'll find a way to.
Working in one of those web apps and it's time to go?  Are you going to a meeting that will require you to type?  Take the ChromeOS laptop.  Does your meeting better suited to a touch device?  Take the Android tablet.  

As a side note, it just goes to show that, NO, ChromeOS and Android are NOT competing or repetitive, they are complimentary and can live very nicely side by side.

I just recently converted from an iPhone 4 to the Motorola Atrix.  I was playing with the Atrix and figured I head over to a very cool web app I found on the Chrome Web Store to create mock ups called Cacoo.  What do you know, it loaded right up.  Just to be sure I tried to get there on my wife's iPhone 4, no dice, got the Flash error.  While I was playing around with it, I was thinking, man, if only this screen were bigger... AHA!!!  Building mock ups on my CR48 is great, but if I could do it with my finger on an Android tablet, it would be even smoother I think.  Until now, it's only been the iPad, so people haven't been able to experience this yet, but I believe it's coming with the Android tablets, and the selling point that "Flash" is available on the Android tablet is going to become a REAL strong selling point.
Want an ecosystem.... now THAT's an ecosystem.  One that is only expanded as more and more developers jump on board.  It doesn't depend on Flash but is helped greatly by Flash and so Flash and Google will continue to be married at the hip.
Aloha,
James

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Comment by Brian on February 28, 2011 at 11:44pm
I had a long reply but Ning ate it... and I'm not typing that out again ;)

Basically while I do agree that many users will benefit from this, I'm skeptical whether the overall threat profile will diminish. Information is big business - and as long as there is little recourse for consumers whose information was mishandled - businesses will not generally put a big priority on protecting it.

That's just reality. Companies already have the law on their side when it comes to protecting their IP. Until we as individuals have more rights over information that can negatively impact us - this is all academic.

In that sense, large ecosystems like Google can be good. Their business model requires people.. and for people to be doing lots of stuff within it. In order for us to stay within it, they have to treat us fairly well. They can exercise clout and a mutualistic relationship can come about.

Because security in the 21st century is about companies protecting their business model from parasites - who are often their users as well.
Comment by James Pakele on February 28, 2011 at 8:23pm

First, the more *nix based systems the better, I'm including OSX and iOS in this as well.  Thought not impervious by any means the system inherently restricts access to system files and services.  This lessens the impact of things spreading.  I realize this may be beside the point but just thought I'd throw it out there.

Second, it takes the management of security out of the hands of users who are usually very lax in keeping up with patches and updates and into the hands of server and database administrators.  I've witnessed offices systems and operations come to a halt because ONE person had a virus on a USB key and their out of data virus scanner let it by.  Again nothing is bullet proof and yes some admins aren't up to snuff but a cloud or server centric system usually means that the people responsible for providing the system with security are more knowledgeable than the average user.  

 

I agree that Google is heading the problem off by providing two step verification to their services, which I did enable.  It is't as cumbersome as I thought it would be. And, yes, if Google wants you to trust them with all your data they need added security steps. Although, I admit, I put everything on their servers even before that.

 

So, shifting the burden does offer some elevated resistance to attack.  By taking the responsibility out of the hands of people that believe if they enter their FaceBook user name and password they can find out who's been visiting their page.  But you are correct it does make the honey pot a lot more appealing.  

 

With the shift being accompanied by machines like the CR48 (or it's market models) it makes the platform a lot more secure, by locking down many of the possible entry points.  On a ChromeOS machine, you can't install anything, this includes viruses. The CR48 is also equipped with a mechanism does a step by step verified boot that restores system files that have been tampered with from

Comment by Brian on February 28, 2011 at 6:38pm

Also I think you haven't quite realized your own paradigm - the concept of "my machine" is meaningless once your hardware is a throwaway and your computing environment can instantly appear anywhere. It's just the machine you happen to be using at that time.

 

With the shifts we're already seeing in group workspaces, away from closed offices, it will be interesting to see the impact on collaboration and group dynamics.

Comment by Brian on February 28, 2011 at 6:35pm

While I agree with many of your points, I'm a little lost on how any of this prevents malware from spreading or how it makes information more protected, etc. As the value of a platform increases, so does the value of targetting it.

 

The fact that Google has recently added out-of-band authentication mechanisms such as sending a code to a cellphone tells me they see the coming storm.

 

While cloud computing may help to shift some of the burden off the user's device and onto the infrastructure, this doesn't make the platform as a whole more resistant to attack. In some ways it can be said to weaken it. Simply centralizing the infrastructure may make it easier to watch, but that doesn't necessarily make it easier to protect. This manageability aspects are arguably cancelled out by the fact that if it is compromised, the impact is far more substantial.

 

So in other words you may go from a high risk (lots of devices, hard to manage), low magnitude (impact of any one or several compromises is contained) = moderate vulnerability scenario to a low risk (dumb devices, easy to manage), high magnitude (compromise of infrastructure is a nightmare) = moderate vulnerability scenario.

Comment by James Pakele on February 27, 2011 at 10:17am

I admit, I didn't see what the big deal with Flash was at first.  However, when I realized that just by including Flash in the Android, Google has enabled every web app out there, whether in the Chrome Web Store or not, I saw the genius in it.  With Apple refusing to include Flash and alienating them every chance they get they are just giving Google more ground and putting themselves deeper in to the corner. 

Comment by Kevin Luttrell on February 27, 2011 at 9:55am

Very insightful post James. I concur completely. The problem with Apple's spin machine regarding Flash is that it worked when the iPhone and iPad were the only kids on the block and the Flash 10.1 player hadn't been released-- so most consumers took Apple's statements at face value and lined up at the throne of Steve Jobs to worship Apple and decry Flash. Although Apple's stuff does look cool, the functionality in the market is leveling off. In other words, Android and iPhone offer basically the same functionality these days. However, by not including Flash support, consumers see a big hole in the content they want to view-- and realize that Apple's BS regarding Flash was all smoke and mirrors.  The Flash player is a plugin but so what. It's stable, works on all platforms equally well, and is extremely versatile for developers. It's no surprise that Google is moving full steam ahead with their support.

(note: this isn't an attack on HTML5 or an HTML5 vs Flash debate so simmer down with that line of thinking)

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