The rumour mill has it that Google will launch a Chrome netbook, cloud-based, computer before Christmas or early in the New Year. When you put this rumour alongside the others coming from the Googleplex you get an interesting picture

  1. Is Google going to buy a big package of movie rights? Is that why it has hired the former Netflix executive George Kynci?
  2. Google is possibly quite close to signing a deal with the major music labels for its cloud-based music-streaming service.
  3. For a couple of years, Google has been apparently on the brink of releasing a digital books service in collaboration with book publishers. Most recently Dan Clancy told us that Google Editions will be launching very soon (très bientôt”)

The rumours about the Chrome netbook suggest that its really all about the web, cloud-based productivity and web browsing, but if its launch is accompanied by, or closely followed by, a Google distribution and e-commerce solution for books, films and music, the market place for publishers and entertainment companies may change very fast. Google will be a formidable competitor if it becomes an information publisher and an e-commerce platform for film, music and books. Competitor primarily for Apple and Amazon, Google may well be seen as more of a ‘friend’, because more collaborative and more open than either Amazon or Apple, by the big incumbent publishers and media groups. Knowing, as we do, the way Google works (quiet launches, ‘beta’ services, and something of a scatter gun approach) I think its unlikely that Google will launch a fully fledged, cloud-based, Chrome-machine, with a multi-channel, multi-media dashboard in place in the first quarter of next year. It is surely more likely that this hardware platform and this constellation of media services will each emerge in their own good time. But if the plans come off and Google has these publishing partnerships in good order, it is highly likely that Google will be selling a lot of consumer products next Christmas. And I do not meant via Groupon; a commercial solution that can stream all kinds of media stuff from your locker in the cloud to Android and Chrome platforms, will be a dazzling consumer attraction