Who Should Actually Worry about the Chromebook

The Verge has an interesting piece on the implications of Google’s Chromebooks, cheap-as-dirt laptops that run a browser-based OS and purportedly do not suck. Writer Tom Warren emphasizes the threat this poses to Microsoft, obviating the entire netbook and cheapie Windows machine markets – – if they sell.
But I think that’s not who should really be worried (I mean, Microsoft has a lot to be worried about, but that’s not where I’m headed). Seems to me that if Google really does have a fleet of compelling $250 laptops, it’s Apple that needs to worry. I can tell you from my experience as a blue-shirted Apple drone, folks buying iPads were doing so because they loved the idea of a smallish computer that cost 500 bucks. But in what I remember as being a majority of cases, they were always disappointed in a lack of a physical keyboard, or a lack of expandability via things like SD cards. They wanted a computer, but the iPad was awesome in its own way, so that was that.

A Chromebook is a real computer, which, like Apple in a way, strips away the parts you don’t really need (in this case a super-powerful processor and full-blown desktop OS), keeping only what you do (a top of the line browser and Web apps aplenty).

I mean, look at this kind-of-adorable ad. This is not targeted at those who need MacBook Pros or even fancy Android tablets. This is the alternative to the iPad, the computer-for-everyone that is actually a computer.

That’s assuming, of course, that it doesn’t suck. But I wonder.

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24 thoughts on “Who Should Actually Worry about the Chromebook

  1. Ever notice that virtually every ad and commercial is pure social engineering?
    Anyways, I’m looking forward to running Dreamweaver and Photoshop apps on a Chromebook (or Kompozer and Gimp), Netbeans or Eclipse , etc. And gaming! No amount of professors and gaffic bards can compete with browser apps.

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  2. There is a serious shortage of super-powerful professors (although, as a resident of Massachusetts, I do have Elizabeth Warren).
    (I couldn’t resist–I’ve just spent a bit of time amusedly pondering how a single letter mutation in replicating a writer’s thought can seriously change the functionality of a sentence).

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  3. You are spot on about the iPad’s place in the Apple ecosystem as a kind of lower cost laptop replacement. Further evidence of this is that prior to the iPad they had three laptop models: The cheapest was the Macbook, then there was the sleek Macbook Air, and on the top of the chain the high-end Macbook Pro.
    Well, once the iPad became established the regular Macbook was no more and I think they may have also lowered the cost of the Air.

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    • Correct. As far as PCs go, I don’t think Apple is ever going to want to enter Chromebook price territory. I think they’re happy making computers that high-end users prefer, and intend iPads for everyone else.

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  4. This is the alternative to the iPad

    People love their Angry Birds, and their Cut the Rope and whatnot, which are not available on Chrome Book. Also, it’s a laptop, not a tablet. Tablets have their uses, laptops have others. If anything, this is an addition to the iPad (and other tablets), not a replacement.

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  5. My mum will certainly buy one just to keep her eeePCs company… the poor things have been so depressed since these tiny skinny tablets have stolen all their spotlight.Seriously, IMHO most people would more appreciate being able to plug a keyboard into their iPad than having an actual computer — because the typical user doesn’t want to understand their device and come up with new individual uses, they just want the few pre-set tasks that they already know to work intuitively and smoothly.
    Just look at Linux’s user base compared to that of Windows and MacOS…

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  6. With Windows 7 at nearly $200, Microsoft damn well ought to worry. Microsoft is getting pushed on Office sales, which are their other big cash cow. It’s possible that we may see Microsoft get bought by Oracle or something frightening like that, in the next decade. My friends all laughed when I predicted the death of Sun, when Digital collapsed.
    The thing that Google has gotten right is that they understand the market division is along the line of content producers and content consumers. A tablet or a lightweight device without keyboard is going to be OK for the occasional content creator but there’s a market niche for something inexpensive that straddles the desktop/laptop/tablet divide.
    Also: there is a whole world out there for whom the cost of the device is the ONLY factor that matters. “As cheap as possible” being the requirement, there. You can’t make a lot of profit margin there but there are a hell of a lot of eyeballs and clicks to monetize in that realm.

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    • Exactly. And for many people, I think going with, say, a $200 tablet (Kindle Fire, Nexus 7) and a Chromebook checks all the boxes they’ll ever need checked. And then it’s still cheaper than a decent laptop with a regular OS. This is not, of course, for Photoshoppers or Final Cutters, etc.

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  7. Ever notice that virtually every ad and commercial is pure social engineering?
    Richard Feynman once observed that marketing is one of the only inherently immoral professions because it consists of trying to sell things as better than you know them to be.
    I just thought I’d mention that.

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  8. Kind of related. But since we’re talking about Apple vs Microsoft, here’s on interesting number to put it all into perspective: Apple generates more revenue from the iPhone alone than all of Microsoft.
    I got this from reading an August Vanity Fair piece on Microsoft with some quotes from Jobs that shows you exactly how any why Microsoft is being left behind: http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/08/microsoft-lost-mojo-steve-ballmer

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  9. The “chromebook” isn’t the first attempt at a complete tablet with the ability to add peripherals. Fujitsu did it in the mid-1990s with their “Stylistic” series of tablets (500, 1000, et al). They had touch screens which were enough alone to operate the computer (far ahead of anyone else) but one could also plug in a keyboard, a mouse, and flash RAM cards.
    http://solutions.us.fujitsu.com/www/content/products/Tablet-PCS/History/tablet-pc-history_08.php
    http://www.cnet.com/laptops/fujitsu-stylistic-lt-c/4507-3121_7-30010582.html

    Unfortunately, it most definitely was far ahead of its time and failed. It did as advertised, but was expensive and didn’t sell well. It was used mostly by businesses which needed hand held data entry (e.g. hospitals), which was rare at the time. The marketplace may finally be ready for tablets.
    I wanted a Stylistic but couldn’t afford it; it was one of my favourite computer designs. I have wanted a tablet for years, but nobody else made one.

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  10. I have a chromebook. It was 200, not 250. They had two different ones, and I got the cheaper one.I like how small it is, though I wanted smaller, but I definitely wanted a keyboard, so a freaking tablet was out of the question for me. There’s some minor things I miss that I had on my windows xp desktop, but whatever. The main problem seems (to me, who knows very little about this) to come from the fact that it doesn’t, like, keep up with your tabs for very long. Like, if you don’t look at a tab for a while, then when you click back over to it, it loads anew, which is terrible if you were playing a game or something. I think this might also be causing problems with me trying to listen to podcasty things online. But when the thing I’m listening to randomly stops, I can just refresh the page, and then jump to the spot where left off, so it’s not that big a deal. It’s definitely minute compared to the fact that I now have access to the internet when I’m at home alone after school and would otherwise be bored out of my mind.

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    • if you don’t look at a tab for a while, then when you click back over to it, it loads anew

      This is standard Android behaviour, and indeed very annoying. The poor support for multi-tasking is one of the reasons I don’t think Android makes a good desktop OS. Of course, with 4.2 it tries to catch up, so I’m not sure what the latest Chrome books offer in that respect.
      Also, when typing instead of speaking, try to avoid interjectory “like”. It’s annoying.

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      • I’m not going to eliminate words from my language that have an actual meaning. I wasn’t throwing the word “like” in just for the hell of it, it was meant to indicate the idea of a guess, because I’m not really sure what’s going on. That use of the word “like” may not be in your dialect/idiolect, but it is in mine, and at least you can get the general idea of what I mean, so let it go.

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  11. What will really be cool is when they finally make a tablet/laptop where the keyboard can attach robustly but easily be folded. There are certain on-the-go tasks where a laptop is no good for, but there are also desk tasks where a tablet is not great. I think Dell had made something like this but it was a too clunky and heavy.

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    • What will really be cool is when they finally make a tablet/laptop where the keyboard can attach robustly but easily be folded.
      Why attach a keyboard? Bluetooth works. I have a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad, which I bring along depending on whether I expect to be typing or just reading.

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      • rI got one too. It’s not as sturdy IMO. Also they’re usually smaller. Likewise with the screen. Make an 11 inch tablet/laptop and you’re all set.

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  12. I’m actually in the opposite camp, I prefer the tablet keyboard because apple’s predictive typing allows a dyslexic like me to write much faster than a manual keyboard. I could’t have written my Nano novel in 2011 on a keyboard.
    Does this thing have a touchscreen? And how is it with movies?

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  13. Another group who should be worried: The folks who make their living swiping unattended laptops and tablets at coffee shops. If Chromebooks catch on, this will become about as profitable as stealing pagers. Remember when those were a hot commodity?

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  14. Glad to see that Google never gave up on the Chromebook, despite the early negative reviews from critics. Lenovo joining Samsung and Acer should give the Chromebook a big boost.
    But what if you need Office and other Windows applications? You can use a third party solution like Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab.
    Even if you purchase a Chromebook for casual home use, you can also use it to connect to your work applications if necessary.
    Click here for more information:
    http://www.ericom.com/RDPChromebook.asp?URL_ID=708
    Please note that I work for Ericom

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