Google’s name for its prototype Chrome OS tablet, Cr-48, came with a seemingly reasonable explanation.
Chrome is based on the Chromium open source product. Chromium is an element. Cr-48 is an unstable isotope of Chromium, which has a half life of about one day. So Cr-48 was apparently perfect to reflect the unstable stage of the beta of Chrome at this point.
But hang on a minute. There are actually many different Chromium isotopes with varying degrees of stability, including some that are much less stable than Cr-48. So why did Google pick this one? What’s so special about 48?
One possibility was revealed today in the FBI’s insider trading complaint against Walter Shimoon.
When Apple was testing the iPad, its internal codename for the project was K48. This was such a super top secret that anybody mentioning the codename outside of official K48 meetings was likely to be fired.
So, two major Silicon Valley tech companies were working on revolutionary Web-focused hardware devices at the same time, and both picked the same number to use in code names. Coincidence? Or was Google letting Apple know that it’s got some spies down in Cupertino?
Unfortunately for Google, the number is where the similarities between the two products end. The iPad has proven itself to be one of the hottest products of 2010. The Cr-48–and Chrome OS in general–is a product in search of a need.
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