Google Chrome OS: Dissecting A Great Marketing Announcement

Last week I was having a heated discussion with another marketer about Google’s marketing and my position was that Google’s marketing hasn’t impressed me much.  And by marketing I mean the way they launch, message and position products.  The exception has been Google Chrome which I’ve written about before and I thought was a good launch.  My argument was that they didn’t do a great job of articulating the value of their products.

Today the Chrome team has announced Google Chrome OS and I’m going to have to go back to my friend and eat crow because this is a fantastic piece of marketing.

The blog post on the announcement can be seen here.  Go and read it.  This is textbook example of how to build momentum and mindshare in a market (while causing your key competitor considerable grief) with a product that isn’t going to see the light of day for a year and a half.

Here’s how they do it:

  1. Establish credibility – In just 9 months they now have 30million regular users of Google Chrome.  This is the “we know what we are doing and now we are going to do something even better” part of the announcement.
  2. Tell us what it is“Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks.” Read that again.  It doesn’t seem hard to come up with a one-liner that describes what your product is or does but almost nobody does it well. I’m at the first line of the second paragraph and I’m paying attention (see point 1) and I know exactly what they are announcing.
  3. The value statement – “Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS.” Not only is the value statement very simple and easy to understand, they are also extremely relevant to the target market (netbook users) and VERY differentiated from the key competing product (Windows). The rest of this paragraph gives a very digestible set of examples that outline why you care about speed, simplicity and security.  Here’s the paragraph:
    Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get
    you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on
    the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.
    It’s easy to understand and compelling to the target market.
  4. Talk to the Ecosystem – they follow with a message for application developers, a key constituent for their main competitor:
    For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.
  5. Address positioning with existing products – Next they address the overlap with Android and explain the positioning of the two products.
  6. Wrap it up with the value again – lastly they hit you with the value statement again, each of which is a clearly articulated example of how users will see value in the new operating system.

Notice what isn’t articulated in this announcement.  Other than
describing what hardware the system will run on and stating that the
Chrome OS will be “running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel” there is nothing that gets into the gorey bits of how they will build the thing.  Their potential users don’t care how they do it, they just “…want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up.”

Michael Gartenberg makes a great point about the timing of the announcement here and supposes that the announcement is really more about disrupting
Microsoft as they try to keep the focus on Windows 7, rather than really winning the netbook market:

Right now, this all about Google putting pressure on Microsoft at a time when MSFT would rather keep the market focus on Windows 7, not some upstart Linux platform. By creating of lot of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt this morning (after all, every PC runs web-apps really well and no one is looking for devices that web based only for the most pat). they hope to take the attention and luster off of Windows 7 and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

He may be right and this announcement may mainly be about taking the focus off of Windows 7.  But even if it is, in my opinion, it’s very well executed one.

First time reader?  Why not subscribe or follow me on Twitter or Friendfeed?

18 thoughts on “Google Chrome OS: Dissecting A Great Marketing Announcement”

  1. Nice post… And it does make sense from a marketing point of view. The one question that still sticks in my mind is: late 2010? By then, all netbooks will be notebooks. It’s weird to be late to the netbook party. That’s what confuses me.

  2. Thanks for the comment. The netbook segment still has a lot of momentum in it, I believe and I also think that we will see a lot of turnover in that space as people upgrade hardware to get faster chips (and potentially better OS’s).
    You make a good point about netbooks becoming notebooks and there is the huge unanswered question in this release around what applications it will run. The vast majority of netbook users still want to run the windows apps.
    Again, you could look at this announcement as being timed mainly to disrupt MS as it comes under pressure to reduce the cost of Windows 7 for netbooks.
    April

  3. Totally. MS will announce RTM 7 Monday rumour has it, and add that to Apple releasing Snow Leopard as an update for $29…. yay competition. Still it’s interesting to see Google announcing something 1.5 years away. They seem to be acting more and more like a big company.
    Rob.

  4. I agree that they are acting more like a big company. From a marketing perspective, I think it shows their maturity to lead, rather than follow the market. Folks will say that it’s a vaporware announcement but the reality is that it takes time to build a set of relationships with OEM’s and visibility in the ecosystem. For those reasons, an early announcement is better.
    Plus it doesn’t hurt to steal your competitor’s thunder on the eve of a big announcement 😉
    April

  5. Pingback: Mark Graham

  6. Pingback: Rob Tyrie

  7. Pingback: Mark Evans

  8. Pingback: arashba

  9. Pingback: Dave Daniels

  10. Pingback: Allan SpencerStewart

  11. Great post April! Really liked your deconstruction of the announcement…
    Would love for you to comment on whether or not Google is targeting the Mac OS… While the Google Chrome OS announcement denied this as a possibility, it may have been necessary to state that because of Eric Schmidt being on Apple’s Board of Directors (see http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10282170-2.html)… What do you think about the relationship between Google and Apple in light of the Google Chrome OS initiative?

  12. Hi and thanks for the comment.
    I really don’t see this announcement making Google and Apple more competitive than before. Apple sells hardware and Google sells advertising. Apple doesn’t play in the netbook market and if they do it will be with their own hardware. Much like Android vs. the iPhone, Apple builds software to sell hardware and Google ships software to sell ads. In my mind there might be overlap in what markets they play in but the underlying business models are very different.
    As for Schmidt stepping down from Apple’s board, if Android didn’t cause him to do it, I doubt this will.
    April

  13. Pingback: Beth Mann

  14. Pingback: Al

Leave a Reply to Rob Kenedi Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *