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No One Is Buying Chromebooks

Posted by on November 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

Imagine buying an iPhone and it had one app: Safari. Imagine buying a Windows-based netbook and as soon as you entered your credentials, you were ushered to a full screened version of Internet Explorer from which you could never leave. I’ve had some great times with my own Chromebook, an original CR-48 model, but let’s be fair: I got it for free. It turns out that both Acer and Samsung have both had a hard time selling the devices and it’s not very hard to see why.

Google’s CEO Larry Page has said that having both Android and Chrome OS under their belt is an envious position, but that’s just silly. I like Chrome OS’s ultra-thin client, but the pricing is all off. While Chrome is a fantastic browser, no one should settle for Chrome OS as their main computer, perhaps not even as a second computer as I do. It’s not great for productivity, unless your days are spent surfing through web sites, and it’s not great for media consumption either because of the wimpy specs. The real issue is that Chrome OS just doesn’t need to exist. Perhaps if Android weren’t so touch-friendly, it would make sense to move it to a laptop/convertible environment, but Page has already suggested that their two OSes will probably merge at some point. Thankfully Samsung and Acer didn’t put too much effort into building out Chromebook product lines.

Google does have an opportunity to push these as $200 netbooks, though. In much the same way that the Amazon Fire may undercut the iPad on price alone, Chromebooks can probably take a sturdy position in an ever-narrowing market. But if Page is going to go around nixing tons of extraneous projects around the Googleplex, this is certainly one of them with the biggest red flag.

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  • Toni Ruottu

    The logic in this article is flawless. Imagine buying a computer that only runs Tetris. Surely no one would ever buy a computer like that.

    • Anonymous

      Not for anything more than $10, correct.

  • Anonymous

    flawed logic. imagine a mother who does nothing but browse the web, email and facebook. that is all she does and all she’s ever done. 
    that’s my mom. when her aging dell laptop started showing bad signs i got her one and she hasn’t missed a beat. she don’t  know and she don’t care about anything else. i tried to explain to her the difference and she just wan’t interested. get her on facebook with her grandchildren, let her play her little games and she’s happy.

    i’d wager that most of my family in that small town in ohio could use a chromebook and never miss a beat. my sister got a free printer with her new desktop a few years back and it’s still in the box. web, email, facebook. oh her husband does use it for more, he buys and sells on ebay.

    the specs of the machine put the price a notch above other similarly spec’d machines but not by much. the samsung is a nicely spec’d machine. you’re not going to get that monitor on a $200 machine. yes, if i was buying something for me in that price range i’d get an hp pavilion but it wasn’t for me.

    sure, you can get “more” but these people don’t use “more”. they got no need for “more” and wouldn’t know how to use it anyway. i’d wager there’s a lot of people out there with “more” because the nerd son-in-law convinced them that’s what they need. i’d also wager they have no idea where that “more” is or what to do with it.

    considering it has no update cost, no virus cost and no support calls i’d say it was worth it.

    • Anonymous

      But how many people like that actually would go out and buy a chromebooks?e. Those type of people have to be introduced to thesis types of devices. But since laptops are seeming more and more bulky compared to things like an iPad and kindle, chrome books don’t stand a chance. Even at a lower price, they just seem like too big of a device. Your mom probably would have just ought a laptop or netbook. She probably knew nothing of chromebooks.

      • Zt8

        Battery? pretty please?

      • Anonymous

        exactly. being the “nerd” son i got her one because i am aware of it. i got her the dell too. she wouldn’t buy a computer on her own.

        it’s about the same size of her old dell. the thing is, she don’t know and she don’t care. she’s happy, it’s fast, and i don’t have to worry about updates or virus. when talking about price one can’t forget that. it’s a good deal.

        people that say without the internet it’s a brick? well, no matter what computer she has if there is no internet it’s a brick.

  • BlackHeron

    The whole point of these chromebooks is to be a supplemental browsing computer.  It takes a small-minded clod to think that these are supposed to replace a real computer for many users who need more at times.   But for a bedside browser that opens up and turns on in a second these things are great. I own one and love it -but I also have 2 other computers to use when I need more.

    The thing that Google’s partners just don’t realize is that you can’t charge a main computer price for a supplemental browsing toy.  People would love a second toy computer like this but they are aren’t going to pay this price for one.  They missed the price-point people are willing to pay for one of these little suckers by at least $100 -perhaps even $150.  

    If the Chromebooks were $250 people would buy them  But for $350 for the cheapo plastic Acer and $450 for something made by a reputable maker like Samsung people are just not biting.
    When they finally decide to lower the price to clear these things out they will sell like hot-cakes -but not for more then $250 a pop.  If they could get them down to $200 people would stampede over themselves for a chance to snap one up.

    But right now?  You have to be a real geek to bite on paying more for less.

  • Gary Lai

    I bought a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, and within one week it became my primary computer. My more expensive Windows laptop with higher specs is gathering dust now. I turn on my Windows laptop maybe twice a month to do the rare thing I can’t do with the Chromebook. Why should I deal with all the maintenance, slow boot up time, and short battery life of my Windows laptop when the Chromebook cold boots into the Chrome browser in 8 seconds, resumes from sleep in 1 second, and its battery last 8 hours? Not even a MacBook Air at $1,000 can match that. But the best thing about a Chromebook is zero maintenance. No anti-virus constantly churning in the background is required. No annoying pop-up windows telling you the computer is going to restart because of an update. No security patches. The Chrome OS updates every six weeks entirely in the background. They are well worth the price tag.

    The earlier comment about the computer that only runs Tetris is ridiculous, as if Tetris were as useful as a web browser. The fact is that nowadays you can do nearly all your computing through a web browser. Email, streaming video, streaming music, word processing and spreadsheets (even Microsoft realizes this and now has a version of MS Word and Excel that works through a browser), games, video and voice chat, financial management including tax preparation, eBooks, photo uploads and editing, and of course web surfing, can all be done through the browser. Perhaps you weren’t aware of this, but it is where the world is heading.

    If your only experience of a Chromebook is a CR-48, the Acer and Samsung models are much improved and faster. There is no problem streaming video like Netflix or Youtube on either the Acer or Samsung models. It is great for media consumption.

    The Chromebook concept is based on the fact that 90% or more of what people need to do on a computer can be done through a browser, so the OS can be stripped down as minimal as possible and optimized only to run a browser. You may or may not need a separate Windows computer and all the baggage of a bloated OS for the remaining 10%, but even if you have a separate Windows computer, your day to day computing life can be much easier and faster with the Chromebook as your everyday machine. For me, I no longer feel I’ll have a need to upgrade or buy a new Windows laptop anymore since Windows has now become such a marginal part of my computing life, and good riddance.

  • Anonymous

    Amazon can afford to sell the Kindle Fire at a loss, because they will gain it all back through media sales. At this time, the Chromebooks are using hardware that doesn’t benefit from huge volume sales (12″ screen, SSD, 3G radio), so it’s going to be hard (except as fire sale closeouts) for Google to set a lower price. And, if Google were to choose to sell Chromebooks at a loss, where is the downstream revenue? 

    For the price, the Acer really isn’t such a bad deal, although I will agree that the Samsung seems about $50 high. With a better hardware spec, I might be willing to pony up for a Chromebook at a $500 price point next year, but for now, the two choices that are available just aren’t good enough to upgrade from the Cr-48. I hope Google stays the course, but if I had to buy a laptop today, it would probably be an ultrabook or Macbook Air, partition the drive, and use Linux unless I absolutely had to use Windows or OS X. 

    In its own way, CrOS is just as much a walled garden as iOS, except the store has empty shelves. While I use Chrome as my primary browser, there are times when I want/need to run something else, which is impossible with CrOS. And then, there is printing, which is impossible in my situation (Power PC iMac, and I’m unwilling to spend the bucks either for a new Mac or a cloud printer). Printing could be a lot better, if CrOS supported CUPS, but it doesn’t, and Google seems to have no interest in doing so.The relatively slow pace of development of Chrome OS is truly frustrating, and suggests that Google’s backing for this project is not as deep as one would hope. On the other hand, there may be some great Black Friday sale prices on Chromebooks in a few days.

  • Anonymous

    When these came out, I said they wouldn’t succeed.neven at $200 these things probably wouldn’t sell. Who wants a laptop that only does web. That’s the stupidest idea in the history of technology. Especially since we are living in he days of less bulk is best and tablets are looking more and more like the future of computing.

    This was a huge step back for google. If anything they should have made the screens detachable from the key. They may have givin the, a chance uti doubt it

    • Zt8

      You are an obvious nay sayer… did you know more than 400+ people use Facebook – And most as the only thing with internet? Youtube and son on? what with Google music? and your own music on the cloud? you sounds real stupid not to realize the future is indeed moving to the internet.

      For the tablets side… battery wise?

      • Anonymous

        I understand that the future is moving to the Internet u dumbass. What I am saying is that They are going backwards by selling another bulky device. It doesn’t do half of what my already bulky laptop does. If I’m going to buy something these days thats heavy and folds up, it had better be a full featured device, not something that only does Internet. My tablet does more than these things do.

        • Anonymous

          well, i wasn’t aware of it. the world revolves around you and your needs. 
          i’ll be damned. who would have guessed it? you apparently are all that and more. and a true wit as well. what a retort! “u dumbass”! just classic! well done laddie, yours is a singular mind i’m sure.

        • Zt8

          Fallacy sir? tell me your pad battery please? have you even use a chromebook? — Pretty ignorant and petty the self you are portraying out here.

          The idea behind chrome-books is genius, just not of it time – what doesn’t tell you, once the times catch up to it, you won’t be seeing the chrome OS on pads? did you see that last Google app for the iPad? total chrome like experience. The chromebook is all about the ecosystem, and Google is shaping one of the most powerful  online ecosystem out there. Youtube with movies? Google Music? Google Search? Google+ for your social? Gmail? Google news? in fact, you will call the internet you use Google. So why not a platform as to be the door to that ecosystem? – Yes, we are moving to the internet and chromebook will be simply ahead when time catches.

          There…

          • Anonymous

            Ha ha! I deleted the app after about an hour of use. Not that it was a bad app, but because it just didn’t fulfill a need. Safari does exactly what I want it to do. And as far as my iPad battery, it gives me a solid 10 hours everyday. What more could I ask for in a device. Look, the chromebook is a great concept. My only problem still remains to be the fact that it is laptop style and lacks features. Buy what you want. Chromebooks still won’t succeed. They don’t offer enough to be so big. People will just keep buying tablets.

            Keep tryin.

          • Zt8

            iBot detected — don’t know why I waste my time with fanboys. Obvious google hater.

          • Anonymous

            Me either. I’m sure you could find something else better to with your life. I wish I could help u, but hey….I got my own problems.

          • Zt8

            Lol, you gotta be one cluster of morality… yo come to this topic to troll about chromebook failing yet here you are telling me to have a life? don’t worry, doubt you can help yourself either.

            On another note, cough.  

            – Why Google’s Search App Is Its Best iOS App By Far

            Search and Read – Google got your iPad thingy to the next level and safari is crap in comparison.

          • Anonymous

            And u must not be able to read. I never said the new search app was bad. I think it’s a great app. I stated I have no need for it. I love chrome, google+, docs, and I’m a big google voice user. I just don’t like chrome books. Does my opinion hold weight? Of course not. As far as android, it’s cool and all, but it’s not as polished as ios FOR ME. I’m definitely not a google hater. I’m just an apple lover. I’m a simple person whos not into pazaz. And what’s so bad about Safari. I don’t get it. Don’t even bother to mention flash. I’ve never missed not having it.

  • A chromebook doesn’t fit the bill for someone that makes a living writing about technology… Or anyone that would read tech articles. 
    But I’d wager that 50% of laptop owners in the US could use chromebooks and not lose any functionality.  I couldn’t.  But my  mom and my dad don’t use their computers for anything but web, email and playing games.  A chromebook fits the bill. Besides that, for them it would be easier to sue and more secure.   And my GF that has a $1000 apple product and she doesn’t use it for anything other than web, email, and writing the occasional document.
    It was bad market strategy that caused the chromebook to fail. It should have been an ‘easy way for your grandma to videochat with her grandchildren’ or ‘ a cheap way to give junior something for school’. It was pointed out though that this technology wasn’t ever been introduced to the technologically ignorant, and still hasn’t/ 

  • Chromebooks are targeted to specific types of users that want an easy, portable Internet browsing device.  They are not meant to replace the traditional PC or laptop.

    In addition, there are third party apps out there that can bridge the gap for Chromebook users that require occasional access to those tools found only in a Windows environment.  For example, if a Chromebook user needs quick, easy, temporary access to a Windows desktop or Windows app, they can use Ericom AccessNow, a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server (RDS Session Host), physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run their applications and desktops in a browser.

    Ericom‘s AccessNow does not require Java, Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX, or any other underlying technology to be installed on end-user devices – an HTML5 browser is all that is required.

    For more info, and to download a demo, visit:
    http://www.ericom.com/html5_RDP_Chromebook.asp?URL_ID=708

  • Robert

    “No One Is Buying Chromebooks”.  

    Oh yeah?  Have you tried shopping for an Acer Chromebook lately?  You won’t have any luck, because they are ALL SOLD OUT at every retailer.   Black Friday shoppers completely cleaned out all US inventory.