Why Google is merging Android and Chrome OS into one

Chromebook Pixel

Google is gearing up to merge Android and Chrome OS into one, which means you will soon be seeing notebooks and PCs powered by Android. But why is Google making this move? According to a new report from Recodethere are several reasons, and one of the biggest ones is mobile.

“Perhaps the critical reason Google is favoring Android is its birthplace: Mobile phones,” writes Mark Bergen. “The greatest threat to the Alphabet company is that its revenue, derived largely from desktop advertising, will dwindle as smartphone usage spreads.”

But Google can prevent that, or at least prevent it from happening so quickly, by bringing mobile platforms to the desktop. In just a few years, you could be using Android to do almost everything, whether that’s replying to an email on the go, or writing up a lengthy report in the office.

“Mobile gives us unique opportunities in terms of better understanding users,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai told investors during the company’s earnings call.

“My long-term view on this is it is as compelling or, in fact, even better than desktop, but it will take us time to get there and we are going to be focused until we get there.”

Another reason behind the merger is scale. “Google loves scale,” Berger says. Android is already one of the largest platforms in the world with over 1.4 billion users, but Chrome OS doesn’t come anywhere near that. It’s thought just 7.9 million Chrome OS devices will be sold this year.

As we know, Google doesn’t have time for products that aren’t insanely popular, which is why it has killed off things like Google Reader, Google Wave, and many others. By doing away with Chrome OS and replacing it with Android, Google kills off a smaller user base and makes Android even bigger.

The third and final big reason, Berger says, is simplicity. It is said to be a struggle for Google to juggle both Android and Chrome OS, not to mention it is expensive and “can be confusing for device makers.” But merging the two platforms into an all-in-one OS for multiple devices solves that.

What’s more, one of Chrome OS’s biggest strengths — security — is one of Android’s biggest weaknesses. If Android’s security can be bolstered by this merger, then, it’s good news for all.

Chrome OS won’t be killed off completely, insists Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chrome OS, and Chromecast. But it seems pretty clear at this point that Google’s main focus is on Android, and that Chrome OS probably won’t be pushed as hard as it has been going forward.

Do you think Google is doing the right thing by merging Android and Chrome OS?