This summer’s smartphone smackdown started up in earnest Saturday with the launch of the Palm Pre. The new handset managed to gather lines — just not iPhone-caliber lines. Apple didn’t let Palm have too much fun; it wasted no time showing off the next version of the iPhone, the 3GS. The real loser, though, might be AT&T, which admitted it won’t support some new iPhone features for weeks.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) doesn’t want you to use Bing to search the Web, and it would much rather see you using Gmail and Google Docs than Hotmail and MS Word. But if you want to use Google’s Chrome browser, you have to run Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows operating system. Does the irony just kill you? Don’t worry — it’s all temporary. Google has released versions of Chrome for the Mac and Linux platforms.
Don’t get too excited, though; from a general-user point of view, both versions suck. They crash, they behave unpredictably, and they don’t even support Google’s own YouTube videos. And that’s not me being a critic — that’s Google’s own people talking. These are more like public alpha releases; anyone can have them, but they’re really meant for developers.
Once they’re more fully baked, though, it looks like Google will open doors to a growing legion of Mac users. Linux users will be able to get into it too, but the Linux side of this development might be most valuable to Google in terms of the netbook possibilities it opens. Netbook manufacturers are starting to warm up to the idea of installing the Android operating system — rather than Windows — onto small notebooks. And a Google-backed browser would probably mesh really well with a Google-backed OS.