As almost all categories of personal computer sales experienced a decline in 2013, one category experienced growth, Chromebooks, powered by Google’s Chrome OS.
Chromebooks are low-cost devices that run Google’s Chrome operating system. Chrome OS connects to Google’s web services, such as Google Drive, as opposed to running locally installed applications on the device. Going by shape, size and specifications, Chromebooks are typically considered a direct competitor to current netbook style laptops. However, due to the greater overall performance brought on by the streamlined Chrome OS functionality, Chromebooks have proven disruptive to sales of current PCs.
Chromebooks have become a popular choice for schools. In addition to their low-price, currently as low as $229, Chrome OS offers a simple management system that makes it easy for schools to support the devices for staff and students. Google also offers their Google Apps system, for business, education and non-profits, that offers further user and resource management.
Investors Business Daily reports that the average price around the globe for a Chromebook in 2013 was $338. Sales in 2013 increased sevenfold over 2012, to a reported total of 2.1 million chromebooks sold. Their expectation is that Chromebook sales will grow at a rate of 28% per year through 2019.
Currently, in the U.S. Google Play Store, you can choose from four variations of the Chromebook. The Acer C720 Chromebook will cost you just $229. The Samsung Chromebook runs at $249. HP Chromebook 11 comes in at $279. Finally, Google offers their own branded Chromebook Pixel, a device with premium specifications, for $1299. The first three all offer at least 6 hours of battery time, 100 GB of free Google Drive storage space and an 11.6-inch screen. A larger screen and higher performance reduces the Chromebook Pixel’s battery life to about 5 hours, but comes with an impressive 1TB of free Google Drive storage space.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what happens with Chrome OS as a whole. Google chose to merge Chrome OS and Android leadership into the hands of Sundar Pichai. So far, we’ve not seen any significant merging of the two systems, and Google founder Eric Schmidt says that we should not expect to see Android and Chrome OS merge either. Aside from Android, Chrome OS has made efforts to further invade Microsoft’s dominance in the PC space. Google has been working with VMWare to enable Microsoft programs to run on Chrome OS, and even near completely duplicated the Chrome OS experience right on top of Microsoft Windows 8.
What do you think, does the Chromebook have a strong future, or is an Android tablet or Windows machine with Chrome OS a better tool for you? What resources, or lack there of, entice or prevent you from buying a Chromebook?