I personally don’t see google buying canonical happening any time soon. (Nor should they) Canonical’s business model is built round the very thing google wants to kill – The Desktop (as we know it)
Google’s business model is built round ads and cloud services, imperative to this model is the need to get everyone to the browser, the cloud and away from the traditional means of using the computer which involves having an OS built around local computer resources Hard drive, CPU, etc.. Ubuntu (Windows and Mac OSX) represent the very thing google is trying the get the world away from.
The new frontier in computing is the cloud. (at least that is what they wants us to believe) and google is doing everything to be the “Microsoft” of the post PC era. In light of all these Ubuntu and canonical (whose business is built around the traditional desktop computer paradigm) is not an attractive proposition to google. For google, the best way to beat Microsoft is not to take the fight to their strongest turf (even apple with all their sexiness and marketing power and industrial respect has not been able to dislodge MS on the desktop) Google wants to beat MS by obsoleting PC era of computing and replacing it with thin client devices (be it mobile phone, tablet or the chromebook) connecting to a cloud backend. Hence it would make more sense for them to invest their effort accelerating the demise of the PC era by taking out some of the stumbling blocks to the post PC era. “How do we get more people connected to the web?” “How do we reduce the cost of the Internet.” Buying canonical is validating the PC era.
In any case if google wants to use Ubuntu as some kind of stopgap to take some momentum off Microsoft’s grip on the desktop. Then all it needs do is try to improve the desktop experience in Linux. It could start by releasing natives Linux version for some of its popular desktops applications that run on other platforms. However from their body language google could care less about the Linux desktop. It never released a Linux version of Google Sketchup , the recently released google music uploader has a Mac and Windows version non was released for Linux, remember how Linux users had to wait for close to a year to get a stable version of google chrome. Even when they do release Linux version of their desktop software. Its doesn’t run native e.g Picasa for linux (which is essentially the windows version using wine hence lacks native OS integration with Linux and also lacks some of the features available in the windows version ) or is feature crippled compared to the windows version e.g google desktop for Linux lacks support for google gadgets. Has it stands Windows is googles number one choice for their PC applications
While I don’t think google hates Ubuntu or Linux (Words on the street is that google does in fact run its own version of Ubuntu which it offers to its developers as one of its OS of choice) however I think google is just not interested in the PC computing space. Google is a cloud company and its business model is built around people connecting to the cloud where it can make money from ads and software as a service. Canonical just does not fit into this model.
Beside canonical can hardly be described as a money making machine. The company is yet to break even in close to it’s 4 years of existence. It has not been able to build a successful business model around Ubuntu. Hence buying it would be a very bad business move, rather google can work with canonical and use some of their expertise to enhance their chromebook. (which is what their doing actually)
If ever (you can never say never ) google does indeed buy canonical. It will find a way to kill off the Ubuntu project or merge it with their chrome OS effort. In any case I am not sure this what we want. So maybe we should be careful what we ask for
Just my 2 cent
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