2011-12-01

Is Google's Chromebook a failure?

On Quora, the question “Is Google's Chromebook a failure?” prompted interesting answers.

Quoting Rachel Wente-Chaney:

Not around here. We have hundreds in schools. Some as part of the Cr-48 pilot and some we've purchased. And we hope to purchase more. They're great for the classroom. The quick boot is why the students and teachers love them. The easy management is why the tech department does.

I have 50 traditional laptops and iPads mocking me me from the corner of my office because I haven't had extra time this month to image them [batch-configure them via an image – a file with a snapshot of a clean system]. With the Chromebooks, we just hand the students the box and they take it from there...

Personally, I love my iPad, desktop, laptop, *and* Chromebook. They're my hammer, screwdriver, saw, and paintbrush. Different tools for different jobs.

Not surprisingly, Chromebooks are big with companies and public institutions that have to mass-manage devices. In many ways, they make Oracle’s dream of the Thin Client come true.

Recent developments:

  • Sales of Chromebooks are relatively slow which makes it harder for Google to convince PC makers to enter that market. Quoting Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai for DIGITIMES:
    However, due to demand for Chrome OS-based devices (Chromebooks) being lower than expected, PC players are taking a passive attitude toward opening projects. In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry.
  • On November 21, Google announced user interface refinements and price cuts so that Chromebooks are now available starting at $299 (starting at €349 in Germany). I like the new commercial that highlights how easy Chromebooks are to set up.

    The revamped New Tab page. Note the shortcuts to games (2nd) and music (3rd) in the Web Store and to the File Manager (last).
  • Google is working towards letting users test-drive Chromebooks in more places. Quoting “Google Opens Pop-Up Shops for a Hands-On Chromebook Experience” by Claire Cain Miller for NYTimes.com:
    Now Google is trying to speed things up with pop-up stations in airports and stores that give people the chance to get their hands on Chromebooks. The effort comes as Google is runs a nationwide ad campaign on TV and online to promote the Chrome browser.
    ...
    “The vast majority of laptops are bought in physical stores, so that was a deliberate challenge,” Lily Lin, a Google spokeswoman, said about Google’s [initial] decision to sell Chromebooks online only. “But people need to spend some time with them to understand the concept, so this is a testing ground in a retail environment.”
    Chromebooks would work well as public terminals, because you are able to log into your Google account and have all your Google Docs etc. available.
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