IT in Africa

OMG it’s true, Google’s announced an operating system!

GoogleOS excites me in a way that that Google usually doesn’t, and here’s why: Google Gears works. And it works really well in Google Chrome.

What? You didn’t notice? That’s probably because you never have to use it. Here in Cotonou where power and internet connections cut all the time, it’s quite useful. And with internet connections that only work (well) at night, I’d even call it necessary.

Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Reader all work offline. They work offline really well in Google Chrome. Syncing back up with the cloud once connected is fast. Westerners might worry about security and reliability in the cloud, but let’s be honest, for its price, the cloud beats anything we’ve got on the ground in Benin.

Imagine the following: You’re a young entrepreneur. You don’t have the funds to buy a “real” laptop, but you can afford a small netbook. The netbooks with GoogleOS are cheaper, so that’s what you buy. You discover that you can use web apps as well offline as online, which means no more pirated (or expensively ought legal) copies of Windows or MS Office. Because all of your documents are saved off AND online, reformatting due to viruses is no longer a big deal. GoogleOS has already backed up everything for you.

Netbooks are never going to entirely replace laptops or smartphones, but what they can do is bring the portability and productivity increases that come with computers and connectivity to a larger audience. An African audience.

And that’s pretty cool.
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