In Pictures: 8 reasons why Chromebooks aren’t going away
t’s been more than two years since the first Chromebooks went on sale. They certainly haven’t taken the world by storm and there have been varying opinions and doubts about the viability of this notebook platform that runs Chrome OS. But Chromebooks are still alive and may be sticking around for a while. Here are 8 reasons why:
It’s been more than two years since the first Chromebooks went on sale. They certainly haven’t taken the world by storm and there have been varying opinions and doubts about the viability of this notebook platform that runs Chrome OS. But Chromebooks are still alive and may be sticking around for a while. Here are 8 reasons why:
They are gaining market share
Definitive numbers of Chromebooks sold over the last two years remain a mystery. One report in March claimed less than 500,000 units had been sold. Another report concluded that sales were running far below Windows RT, which has been written off as a dud for Microsoft. But it all depends on how you define failure or success. It was also recently reported that Chromebooks have taken a 20-to-25 percent share of the market for under-$300 notebooks. Another report predicted shipments would double or triple in the second half of 2013 when Acer, HP, Lenovo and Samsung are expected to release new models.
Chromebooks (and Chrome OS) are a testbed for Chrome browser
Because Chrome OS is basically Chrome the browser running atop a minimal Linux distro, the development work that goes into Chrome OS may show up in the browser. Consider the app launcher, which was brought over to the desktop versions of Chrome. So while Chromebooks may pose no threat to Windows machines for the time being, it looks like Google could keep the development of Chrome OS ongoing indefinitely by justifying it as a project that benefits Chrome the browser.
Acer ramps up its commitment to selling more Chromebooks
On Aug. 8, Acer announced it would expand Chromebook offerings in the near future because of how well their current model, the $199 C7, has been selling. This was an unexpected public statement of support for the Chromebook/Chrome OS platform, coming from the world’s fourth-largest maker of personal computers.
Lackluster sales of Windows 8 computers have opened an opportunity
Acer revealed another reason why it would be focusing more on Chromebooks: Sales of their Windows 8 products haven’t been as good as they had wanted. The sluggish sales of Windows 8 computers throughout this year may have cracked open opportunities for devices running other desktop OSs. Mac OS X looks to be the most obvious beneficiary of the public’s lacking or slow interest in Windows 8, but also Chrome OS in the budget notebook category.
Chromecast is well positioned to complement the Chrome OS platform
Thanks to its low price, the Chromecast became an instant hit. This $35 dongle plugs into the HDMI port of your HDTV. Through it, you can stream video from your computer to your HDTV. The fact that Chromecast and Chromebook share the same brand title suggests they could be parts of the same “living room media center” ecosystem.
Google has been pushing volume sales of Chromebooks, but not without controversy
Google has been making concerted efforts to sell bulk orders of Chromebooks to academic and enterprise customers. A school district in Illinois required that parents pay almost $600 in supplies for each child attending high school. The main cost went to a $300 Chromebook. One parent balked at this, posting online the list of mandatory school supplies which, includes the Chromebook in question.
No, Android doesn’t conflict with Chrome OS
One question asked by many critics: Why is Google developing two separate OSs? Yet this could be asked of Apple and Microsoft, too. The simple explanation is that Android (like iOS and Windows Phone) is meant for mobile devices, and Chrome OS is still primarily designed for a traditional computer with a keyboard for user input. To address another oft-asked question: There is not much point in merging the code of Android and Chrome OS. Because Chrome OS is pretty much Chrome the browser running on Linux, you may as well just run the Android version of the Chrome browser on your Android device.
Chromebooks don’t need to be a big moneymaker for Google
As long as Acer and other manufacturers can make money selling Chromebooks, Google might not be terribly worried about turning a direct profit. Their intent may not be to sell as much hardware as possible, but to use the hardware to leverage Chrome (via Chrome OS) into emerging and institutional markets. With that in mind, Google may not be expecting to sell much of the Pixel, for example. It looks like a pricey show-off piece that exists mainly to demonstrate the cool things Chrome OS can do, and to serve as a reference hardware at the upper technical end.