To Google, ChromeOS devices, such as the new Chromebook Pixel, are Googly Smart Internet devices that support and enable the Google vision for the world. Yes, you can use them for Dumb Internet and Offline stuff, but they're optimized for being online and using Google's algorithm-based services.
Android, on the other hand, is a hybrid device of all three. Yes, it "delivers" Google's Smart Internet products, other app makers' Smart and Dumb Internet products, and also runs apps and data stored exclusively on the device itself, which are designed to function the same way whether there's an Internet connection present or not.
Like all companies, Google has limited resources -- especially limited engineering talent. The company wants to put "more wood behind fewer arrows," as Google famously once said in a blog post.
Instead of wasting time on the Dumb Internet and the Non-Internet, Google intends to put as much "wood" as possible behind the Smart Internet.
The Smart Internet is where Google can dominate everybody and really make a difference.
Android rules the mobile world today, but both the hardware and the software behind smartphones has quickly evolved into commodities.
A couple years ago, chip makers started selling complete chipset and detailed plans so that even very small companies could crank out cheap smartphones. As a result, there has been a bloom in small Chinese companies making smartphones -- hundreds of companies -- and some of them are able to make Android phones for less than $50.
A similar thing is happening in the smartphone operating system space. Linux already provides the core functionality of a smartphone operating system. So initiatives like Tizen and Firefox OS are coming out of the woodwork to compete with Android.
Thanks to cheap chipsets and free Linux, Google finds itself in a business that's neither exclusive to Google nor favoring the cause of the Smart Internet.
Chromebook-like smartphones? Well, that's different.
Google wants to make the world safe for the Smart Internet. And Google is right. Their vision is better.
Right now, it's very early in the world of Chromebooks. They still have a reputation as being flimsy, underpowered, limited netbooks. It will take a while for the Pixel to alter that perception.
But imagine a future in which Internet speeds are far higher than they are now and connections far more flexible and reliable.
Now imagine a Chromebook or Chrome-based cloud-obsessed phone with a higher resolution screen, more processing power, more local storage and better battery life than today's best smartphones.
(It's not hard to imagine some of this: the Chromebook Pixel already has a higher resolution screen than Apple's retina devices and twice the local storage of the cheapest iPad.)
Also: imagine a future version of the ChromeOS that is super smart about caching apps and data so that if you do ever find yourself temporarily without an Internet connection everything you need is locally available.
And, finally, imagine a Chrome-app ecosystem as active as the Android app world.
You'll note that these are not pie-in-the-sky predictions, but very conservative projections that will almost certain happen.
Perhaps best of all, the Chrome-based cloud-obsessed Google smartphone that I can imagine doesn't need a carrier for phone service. It needs only a fast Internet connection, and the ability to make phone calls is just another cloud-based app.
When you log in to Google on your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, all your same apps and data are there. If you lose a device, you replace it, log in and you can pick up right where you left off. You can even log into anyone else's device and get 100% of your stuff as if you were using your own machine. You won't get viruses. Everything is quickly backed up, even if you're lazy like me.
This is not only an attractive vision for users, but it’s a necessary one for Google.
I think Google is going to transition to a cloud-based, ChromeOS smartphone and I think we're all going to love it.