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.

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