2013-01-23

Chromebooks and netbooks

The best-selling laptop on Amazon? A Chromebook [1]! Quoting “Amazon's top selling laptop doesn't run Windows or Mac OS, it runs Linux” (by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for ZDNet):
So, what, according to Amazon, in this winter of Windows 8 discontent has been the best selling laptop? It's Samsung's ARM-powered, Linux-based Chromebook.
This coincides with no more netbooks being produced. Quoting “Sayonara, netbooks: Asus (and the rest) won't make any more in 2013” (by Charles Arthur for Business Insider):
… Asus, which kicked off the modern netbook category with its Eee PC in 2007, has announced that it won't make its Eee PC product after today, and that Acer doesn't plan to make any more …

Asustek and Acer were the only two companies still making netbooks, with everyone else who had made them (including Samsung, HP and Dell) having shifted to tablets. Asustek and Acer were principally aiming at southeast Asia and South America - but of course those are now targets for smartphones and cheap Android tablets.

Paul Thurrot argues that netbooks helped Windows 7 achieve its excellent sales numbers and now can’t help Windows 8, any more. Quoting “Explaining Windows 8 PC Sales Over the Holidays” (on Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows):
It’s not pat to say that the Windows PC market went for volume over quality, because it did: Many of those 20 million Windows 7 licenses each month—too many, I think—went to machines that are basically throwaway, plastic crap. Netbooks didn’t just rejuvenate the market just as Windows 7 appeared, they also destroyed it from within: Now consumers expect to pay next to nothing for a Windows PC. Most of them simply refuse to pay for more expensive Windows PCs.
If all you do with your laptop is browse the web and read email then you don’t need a full-blown desktop operating system and might just as well buy a Chromebook. Or a tablet. Furthermore, Google’s office web apps are basic, but fun to use. And their collaborative features are incredibly useful.

Web apps are slowly getting better at offline, which is key if they want to replace native apps. In the long run, the app part of the web will look much like Android and iOS: app stores, installed apps and offline data. Things I’d like to see in the future are [2]: peer-to-peer sync (not just could sync), standard cloud protocols and better protection of privacy.

References:

  1. A few thoughts on Chromebooks and Chrome OS
  2. The cloud and how it changes mobile computing

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