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Chromebooks Have a Lucrative Year; Should WinTel Be Worried? 321

Posted by timothy
from the hey-as-long-as-you-can-snapchat dept.
Chromebooks, and ChromeOS have come a long way, and this year two of the best selling laptops at Amazon are Chromebooks. Computerworld calls it a punch in the gut for Microsoft. "As of late Thursday, the trio retained their lock on the top three places on Amazon's best-selling-laptop list in the order of Acer, Samsung and Asus. Another Acer Chromebook, one that sports 32GB of on-board storage space -- double the 16GB of Acer's lower-priced model -- held the No. 7 spot on the retailer's top 10. Chromebooks' holiday success at Amazon was duplicated elsewhere during the year, according to the NPD Group, which tracked U.S. PC sales to commercial buyers such as businesses, schools, government and other organizations. ... By NPD's tallies, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012; last year, Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales."
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Chromebooks Have a Lucrative Year; Should WinTel Be Worried?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    No.

    • by something_wicked_thi (918168) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:54PM (#45813433)

      In this case, I think the answer is yes, but the headline is misleading nonetheless. First, some Chromebooks use Intel chips, so Intel is probably getting a cut of this. Microsoft has more to lose than Intel here.

      Second, Windows faces competition from a lot more than just Chromebooks, and I'd argue that Chromebooks aren't the reason why Windows is hurting. Rather, Windows netbooks and tablets have failed to be very compelling, so all the other competitors are doing well. I think that, while Chromebooks are getting more compelling, the biggest driver here is that WinTel laptops are getting less compelling faster.

      Third, aren't Windows sales dipping across the board, anyway, in favor of more mobile devices? That seems like the biggest threat to WinTel, not Chromebooks.

      • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @05:35PM (#45813663)

        Third, aren't Windows sales dipping across the board, anyway, in favor of more mobile devices? That seems like the biggest threat to WinTel, not Chromebooks.

        Computer sales in general are dipping across the board, because there's less reason to consider upgrading. Unless you count cell phone/tablet, many if not most of the people reading this probably haven't bought a new primary computing device in years. Heck, I'm typing this on a 3 year old laptop that is still running as well as it was the day I bought it. I have absolutely no reason to consider upgrading it until I start seeing hardware failures, and that could be another few years.

        10 years ago, each new generation brought huge improvements in overall user experience/speed. Today, they're incremental at best, and most of the improvements that are being seen in the desktop/laptop markets are to do with power consumption, rather than actual speed improvements. Sure, buying a laptop which will run for 8 hours is better than that 3 year old laptop whose battery lasts 2.5 hours, is it *enough* of an upgrade to make it worth buying a new one? For most of us, no. Case in point: I'm using an inverter that I bought 6 years ago, rather than buying a new laptop with a longer-lasting battery right now (cellular data, too... in the back seat of a car that's travelling 100km/h through the countryside). Sure it's one more gadget to carry, it's still a lot cheaper than a new laptop which wouldn't give me any other improvement.

        • by evilviper (135110)

          Case in point: I'm using an inverter that I bought 6 years ago, rather than buying a new laptop with a longer-lasting battery right now (cellular data, too... in the back seat of a car that's travelling 100km/h through the countryside).

          An inverter is a terribly wasteful way to power a laptop, and when that waste is powered by gasoline in an ICE, you might be quadrupling the expense.

          My old EeePC is powered by 12V, so I can use an old $2 car cig-lighter cord, with no dual-conversion waste. If your laptop is

        • Yep, most people used their PC's for content consumption, not creation. They're finding that consumption works just find on Android. What little creation they do works find from a browser on Android.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        I doubt Intel is really excited about their share of the BOM on a $200 laptop. But they have no choice. It's this or give the Chromebook to Qualcomm for Christmas.
      • by Tough Love (215404) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @05:51PM (#45813765)

        some Chromebooks use Intel chips, so Intel is probably getting a cut of this

        That helps Intel, not the Wintel duopoly. In fact it helps wean Intel away from Wintel so its all good.

        Chromebooks aren't the reason why Windows is hurting

        True, the point is that a significant segment of the market is willing to buy a laptop without Windows. It's a harbinger. It is now evident that running Windows applications is not a killer feature for many customers after all, running a browser is.

        Now Android laptops are starting to show up. This development constitutes a far greater threat to Microsoft's income than Chromebooks do, for one simple reason: the Android app market. We are already past the tipping point where 800,000 Android applications have more impact on day to day life than the usual Windows offerings. That enables a robust market segment which will attract further development so that Microsoft's traditional spreadsheet/wordprocessor breadbasket comes under attack. Google helped this along tremendously by buying and releasing Quickoffice as freeware. Libreoffice with an Android interface is not far away. The document processing argument for sticking with Microsoft is rapidly eroding.

        Note that Android on laptops does not fit Google's agenda perfectly either: Google would much prefer that the market become entirely dependent on cloud offerings, regardless of whether that is best for the customer. Among other advantages, this lets Google "fix" the little problem that Android is forkable open source. But Android on laptops is now inevitable and is far preferable for Google than Windows or Ios on laptops. Android on laptops will help keep Google out of antitrust court for one thing.

        While I am rambling on here, the next domino to fall will be Microsoft's server franchise, which is sustained largely by being the backend for Microsoft's email applications and directory infrastructure. Who needs it when Gmail is so much less bother? Look around you at work: do you already see this trend under way? Yes you do.

        Well, what next? Some of us were sure that Microsoft would eventually end up as a console company but several factors now cast doubt on that: Sony is thumping Microsoft in this product cycle; the gamer demographic is shifting to an older, more casual mix that is perfectly happy whiling its time away with cheesy touchscreen games instead of hardcore console blockbusters; and Stream walked. Suddenly it starts to look like Microsoft's traditional PC monopoly could be the last part of the ship to sink and its games business will turn out to be just more dead weight pulling it down faster.

        About the only thing Microsoft could do to accelerate its sink rate would be to make Elop CEO. We can only hope.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Sunday December 29, 2013 @06:37PM (#45814007) Journal

        Actually as a retailer I can tell you not only WHY the Chromebooks had a good year but WHY MSFT had a shit year, ready? The answer to the first is PRICE and the answer to the second is WIN 8 SUCKS.

        The Chromebook is proof that MSFT fucked themselves right out of the netbook market. Remember all those "The netbook is a fad/death of the netbook" articles? Well let this shop owner let you in on a secret most didn't know, which is MSFT killed it on purpose because Ballmer decided that Windows should cost Apple money while at the same time having a 4 alarm fire's worth of smoke blown up his ass by Intel who was frankly tired of all those Atom and AMD Bobcat chips cutting into their high margin sales. In less than 24 months netbooks went from $179 to $499 and believe me it was NOT the customer asking for features that jacked up the price, as i was having to hunt my ass of to get my hands on the sub $350 netbooks, especially the AMD bobcats, but when the price jumped? Sales died. The fact that MSFT killed a big selling market because it wasn't making "iPad Money" frankly should be no surprise as "I want to work in Cupertino!" has been Ballmer's cry for a good half a decade. All Google did was take that business and as we can see its good business indeed. That is what you get for not listening to your retail channel you fat sweaty bastard Ballmer.

        As for the second i could wallpaper this page with "Wow Win 8 REALLY REALLY sucks" articles, but do i even need to do that anymore? Fuck common sense should point out the gaping hole in the premise, Windows 8 is made to be a tablet/cellphone OS and sucks without a touchscreen, people buy Windows for the billions of dollars in legacy Windows programs they have....which are NOT designed for a touchscreen and are as easy to use with a touch UI as trying to touchtype on a 4 inch smartphone while wearing oven mitts. The entire concept is stupid, pointless, and thanks to MSFT having a REALLY shitty "designed by committee" style UI that takes the worst out of both the desktop AND the tablet while taking almost nothing good combined with a "We're smarter than you, you'll take this 'innovation' and learn to like it you lazy luddite" bad attitude? People have made it loud and clear than Win 8 is a giant DO NOT WANT. Hell myself and most of the little shops in my area won't even carry the thing anymore, and all the e-stores have big "We have Win 7" signs so no damned wonder sales are tanking, they might as well have put out "Win 8 Goatse Edition" for all the appeal it has Joe and Jane Normal.

        This just goes to show what we retailers have been saying for years...give people what they want (or what they think they want) while giving them the impression you are listening and care about what they want? Watch your sales grow year in and year out. treat the customer like shit, ignore their complaints, and act like you really don't give a rat's ass about them either way like MSFT has been doing? Watch them stay away in droves. Even with the inertia of Windows folks are happily trying Chromebooks NOT because they want some locked down thin client, but because Ballmer and Co has been giving them the bird and have made it clear they ONLY want Apple customers with Apple money and Apple margins. Well I hate to break the news to ya Steve, but Apple customers wouldn't piss on a Surface if it was on fire and Windows customers? they never LIKED Windows, they TOLERATED Windows. Your jacking the price while flipping them the bird over the UI was enough for a large chunk of 'em to go "fuck this bullshit" and start looking for the exits.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          Actually as a retailer I can tell you not only WHY the Chromebooks had a good year but WHY MSFT had a shit year, ready? The answer to the first is PRICE and the answer to the second is WIN 8 SUCKS.

          That pretty much sums it up. With all the other excuses, Windows 8 simply Sucks. More on teh price issue below.

          The Chromebook is proof that MSFT fucked themselves right out of the netbook market. Remember all those "The netbook is a fad/death of the netbook" articles? Well let this shop owner let you in on a secret most didn't know, which is MSFT killed it on purpose

          The constant droning mantra of most of the Microsoft set is cost, cost, and cost. There is another thread going on where people are trying to put together low cost PC systems to compete with the new Mac Pros. I once watched a flamewar over a 5 cent difference on memory chips

          I have two remaining PC's that I own. One is a dual boot windows/linux laptop, and the other one is a little netbook. That

        • The posting sums up the proximal or immediate cause very well. But what is the ultimate cause? Why does Microsoft do what it does?

          Basically because when the company got big, the original set with fire in the belly, passion, and competition cashed out or burnt out. The second echelon came in, used short term policies got their goodies and went out. The management that remained all came of age when Microsoft was so dominant they could put out start ups that could threaten them just by press releases of vapor

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by akinliat (1771190)

      Well, I'd say that Microsoft disagrees with you. Consider this -- their current ad campaign for Windows, which includes primetime television spots, is almost entirely taken up with bashing a Chromebook. No more catchy music or complex choreography, just a plain ad using a reality TV star to talk about how a Chromebook doesn't have all the stuff that Windows has (oddly not mentioning BSODs), and so is worthless.

      Maybe Microsoft is spending millions of dollars because they're bored, but that ad sounds like f

  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:08PM (#45812865)

    I wiped the Chome OS off of the Chrombook. For me it was just a cheap netbook.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This is what I hear from everyone I know who has one. I know of 7 people with Chromebooks, they either wiped Chrome off or left it getting dusty on a shelf, one or two given to someone else. I must state that none of these people bought their Chromebooks, they were given for free from Google.

      So, does anyone actually know of anyone who has bought one? Why do they sell well on Amazon? A race to the bottom to release cheap hardware, Chrome OS machines being one of the only ones left as OEMs have learnt that ra

      • Profitability? (Score:5, Informative)

        by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:33PM (#45813037)
        This is a guess I'm pulling out of my @$$, but they look pretty profitable to sell. Those screens can be had for $50 bucks in quantities of 1000 (let alone what Samsung buys) and they hardware's a cheap SOC. The entire thing's probably under $120 bucks and you can sell it for $250. That's a pretty sweet profit margin. It's kinda like how Android phones were outselling Windows 8 Phones because the sales reps got better bonuses. Amazon's going to push the product with the better margin.
      • by symbolset (646467) *
        It's a $200 Haswell notebook. Why would it not sell?
      • by Entropius (188861)

        I have a friend sitting next to me who's not the most computer-geeky of folks who likes hers; she's aware that one could wipe ChromeOS and put something more useful on it, but for now it does "everything she needs". She does have another laptop elsewhere (a larger thing).

      • Yes, I do. I have two. I wiped off Chrome for Chrubuntu, but eventually put it back. Chrome is faster to boot, runs smoother and works better. Google did a lot to find tune it.

        http://slashdot.org/journal/598315/six-months-with-a-chromebook [slashdot.org]

      • by 1369IC (935113)
        I bought one of the 11.6" Samsungs last Christmas. It's the machine I take to work/on travel, etc. I also use it like my wife does her iPad -- downstairs in front of the TV, up in the bedroom before bed, etc. For me, it's small, decent to type on and has no fans. I had an iPad at work and a hand-me-down Kindle Fire, but tablets are useless without a keyboard, and then you've essentially got a chromebook. I have a desktop running Slackware 14.1, and until a few weeks ago a big ol' Dell Precision laptop runn
    • by pesho (843750) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:49PM (#45813121)
      I bought a samsung chromebook for the kids and it is still with the original ChromeOS. Perfect for what they need - web browsing, simple document creation. Even I occasionally pick it up. I will likely buy one later this year for my parents to replace an old Windows XP Netbook. Again it is going to do all they need to do and at the same time require a lot less maintenance than Windows. I think google has found a nearly perfect balance here. The only drawback is the somewhat finicky printing. Let's face it the operating system has become a cheap commodity, as far as the the average consumer is concerned. For consumers the hardware and the OS are inseparable parts of the same package, and the nature of the OS is a little concern for most of them. In this mindset the price takes a lead in the purchase decision and windows hardware with its price premium for the OS is bound to loose. And before you jump up and start telling me how much more windows and MS office can do, let me make clear that we are not talking about business PCs. The chromebook primary market is the home users.
      • by Teckla (630646) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @05:55PM (#45813779)

        Again it is going to do all they need to do and at the same time require a lot less maintenance than Windows.

        Maintenance is the primary problem with Windows. It's just too much work to keep a Windows system running well and safe.

        In the last few years, my father has spent more money on Windows maintenance -- paid a company to wipe and reinstall his PC due to viruses, and then paid a pretty penny for antivirus software -- than he would have spent on an entire Chromebook.

        And in the end, what does he do on his PC? Web browsing.

        Not to mention the fact that his data is way safer on Google than local. Okay, so can Google and the NSA see pictures of his grandchildren if it's stored on Google? Probably.

        But that's not important to him. What's important to him is not losing those pictures in the first place. And those pictures are way safer on Google's servers than on his local computer.

    • by D1G1T (1136467) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:23PM (#45813293)
      Bought my Acer Chromebook with the intention of running Linux on it for use as an on-site network diagnostics machine I didn't need to fear getting stolen. I have found myself using it much more in the chrome side of the dual boot. Web browsing, checking mail, and even the occasional netflix movie. Basically what other people use tablets for, except it has a physical keyboard. It's a great little machine.
    • shame about the browser. if this thing came with a detachable touchscreen it'd be a great Firefox OS device!

    • by cmorriss (471077)

      I bought an Acer C720 for my wife. Chrome OS is nearly perfect for her. All she does is surf the web and the small amount of photo editing can be done in web apps like pixelr. Plex and Netflix work like champs.

      The only hitch was Skype as she uses it to talk to her family in Italy. That's where linux comes in. Installed crouton and have it running aside chrome OS. Skype runs beautifully in it and she can hear a call while in chrome OS and switch with a single key combo and switch back when finished.

      Microsoft

    • I wiped the Chome OS off of the Chrombook. For me it was just a cheap netbook.

      I don't get it. What the hell did you install in place of Chrome OS on the 16-32 GB hard drive? That's an impossibly small amount of storage, which is why Chrome OS takes the online apps approach so you don't have to actually install anything.

  • by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:09PM (#45812875)

    Seems like Google found a pretty good formula there. I'm not sure Chromebooks will ever be even the single #1 overall netbook OS, lots of people need support for things Chrome doesn't do, but it is pretty impressive that they've got this much market penetration. I'd have scoffed at the possibility a year ago myself.

    • by taxman_10m (41083)

      Everyone else kinda stopped selling netbooks didn't they? I would have preferred a netbook with roughly the same specs as a Chromebook and for roughly the same price, but such a thing didn't exist. Just a few years back there seemed to be plenty of different options.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        The way netbooks were killed was always sort of fishy.
        • Not really. They were a pain. Atom really did have what was (at the time) miraculous power consumption, but it struggled with a lot of tasks.

          The novelty of an easily-portable laptop was relatively new outside of obscene price points (Intel's ULV parts cost a lot more back then), but quickly wore off once low-power parts became available, starting with Nehalem and solidifying with Sandy Bridge. Ivy Bridge made tablets viable and Haswell improved on that.

          It turns out there isn't much of a market between crapp

          • by Nerdfest (867930)

            I found they weren't bad running Linux, but were quite slow when running windows. I could even run another Linux version in a VM reasonable well with only a GB of RAM. Not too shabby. I actually still have an original Acer Aspire around being used as a media player (audio) and a few other things. I think Microsoft pushing XP on netbooks is what killed them. I think it was a smart, but dirty move, and they would have needed to worry about Linux a lot sooner if they hadn't.

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              I still run Atom based HTPCs and they are more than adequate. Pair them with a decent trailing edge GPU and you can even do "hard" stuff with them.

              ARM is certainly no power house. Yet it's taking the world by storm. Most people simply don't do a lot of pure computation.

              The problem is not the processor. The problem is the OS.

              Netbooks are little more than slim laptops from 2001 with a different pricetag. They managed to be useful then. Why not now?

          • They were a pain. Atom really did have what was (at the time) miraculous power consumption, but it struggled with a lot of tasks.

            The novelty of an easily-portable laptop was relatively new outside of obscene price points (Intel's ULV parts cost a lot more back then), but quickly wore off once low-power parts became available, starting with Nehalem and solidifying with Sandy Bridge. Ivy Bridge made tablets viable and Haswell improved on that.

            It turns out there isn't much of a market between crappy Atom tablets with docks and 1000 buck Core tablets.

            AMDs efforts came somewhat late when the market was already drying out and sacrificed battery life, so they never ahd much impact.

            Microsoft killed the Linux netbook market by forcing vendors to offer Windows netbooks with better hardware specs than the Linux products. Vendors were forbidden to offer Linux netbooks with the same specs, which would have allowed side by side comparison of functionality and value. This is one of Microsoft's stock anti-Linux strategies, we also saw it used effectively against Dell. The strategem was completely effective, and obviously completely illegal but when has that ever been an issue for Microsoft? T

        • by Teckla (630646) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @06:10PM (#45813881)

          The way netbooks were killed was always sort of fishy.

          Microsoft killed netbooks by only licensing Windows 7 Starter on netbooks that were underpowered to run Windows 7 well. Thus, people ended up having a lousy user experience.

          Google revived netbooks in the form of Chromebooks by ensuring that Microsoft could not sabotage them.

          People never really stopped liking netbooks -- what people didn't like was underpowered netbooks (which was Microsoft's fault) running Windows 7.

      • by Teckla (630646) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @06:06PM (#45813855)

        Everyone else kinda stopped selling netbooks didn't they? I would have preferred a netbook with roughly the same specs as a Chromebook and for roughly the same price, but such a thing didn't exist. Just a few years back there seemed to be plenty of different options.

        Microsoft knowingly, willingly, and successfully killed netbooks, by only allowing Windows 7 Starter on netbooks that didn't have enough resources (primarily memory and CPU speed) to perform well.

        So the people that got them had a bad user experience, bad mouthed them to everyone they knew, and never bought one again. Those people should have blamed the true guilty party -- Microsoft -- but they blamed netbooks in general instead. Thus, Microsoft successfully killed off netbooks.

        The original idea of netbooks was something closer to what Chromebooks are... and they are very successful. Google was smart enough to rename them (netbooks -> Chromebooks) and smart enough to include an OS and browser that Microsoft can't sabotage.

        And now we see that netbooks are actually a success, because Google went back to the original successful formula (no fat and slow Windows, no asinine limitations on hardware). Oh, and renamed them from netbooks to Chromebooks since Microsoft's anti-netbook campaign was so successful that everyone hates "netbooks" now... even if they actually do love them in the form of Chromebooks.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:26PM (#45812981)

      I'm a full-time college student, and I'm a part-time web developer. I'm constantly surrounded by the demographics that are the heaviest users of mobile and portable computing devices. Yet I NEVER see anyone using a Chromebook, even though it's something I specifically watch for.

      Nobody in my lectures uses one of them. Most of them have an Apple laptop of some sort, or a Dell. I never see people in the college library with Chromebooks. Again, they've got their iLaptops, Dells, and occasionally a tablet.

      Nobody at my workplace uses a Chromebook, from executives to managers to the marketing squad to us lowly web devs. We all have real laptops, and there are a few people who use a tablet now and then.

      Nobody I know outside of work and college has a Chromebook. None of my extended family members do, my wife doesn't, my kids don't, and none of my friends do.

      Even on the goddamn subway or bus I never see people carrying a Chromebook, never mind actually using it. When I'm out for lunch or getting a coffee, again, I never see Chromebooks being carried or used. The last time I was on a flight, I saw lots of people using Apple or PC laptops, but nobody had a Chromebook.

      If these devices truly were as widespread as is claimed, then why the hell am I not seeing anybody actually use them? Of the hundreds of people I'll see with devices in a given day, or the thousands upon thousands of people I've seen since these devices first came on the scene, none of them have or are using a Chromebook. I see Apple laptops. I see PC laptops. I see tablets. I see mobile phones. But I never see Chromebooks. Never!

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:44PM (#45813101)

        You have to parse the report. This isn't overall sales - this appears to be sales through third-party channels. No Apple Store or apple.com sales, no Microsoft Store sales (ha ha), etc.

        How many people do you know who purchased a Mac at Best Buy?

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          Where I am, most people buy Apple gear at Best Buy. There's only one Apple store, and it's not particularly convenient for many. Many more probably don't even know it's there.

      • by pesho (843750)
        Because most of them are in the homes of people who shop at walmart, and reading your post you rarely visit such places. Nevertheless they are a huge market.
      • by savuporo (658486) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:31PM (#45813321)

        Probably because people buy them for grandparents and kids etc who obviously dont drag them out to look trendy in coffee shops at Noe Valley.

      • I've used one for a while (an Acer C7) and traveled with it to Europe. Served me well with a dual setup Chrome OS Ubuntu Linux setup but I did find it somewhat disappointing at times. I ended up selling it off and buying a full fledged laptop afterwards.

        I would think that one reason you don't see them much is because they are left home. The same people buying these probably use the saved money to buy a tablet for on the go computing.

        Also keep in mind, 20% of the sales are for this year. People you see
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        The most likely markets for a Chromebook would be at home, or at work in a small business that can operate entirely on web-based apps. The least likely place to find it would be on a train, where network connectivity is probably a bit of an issue since most people don't have tethering plans.

        If I had to buy a relative a computer it would be a Chromebook. It does just about everything they'd be likely to need a computer for, and it basically requires zero support. If I were starting a small business and di

    • It doesn't hurt that it's pretty trivial to put Ubuntu on these things. I have a Samsung Chromebook with the dual-core Cortex A-15 processor, and I put Ubuntu 12.04 on it. All the things I can't do i ChromeOS (image editing, etc.) I do in Ubuntu.

    • by taxman_10m (41083)

      From that standpoint the blame should lay with MS and Windows 8. No one wants to give anyone who may need support a laptop with Win 8 on it.

  • The subject line and body are not the same thing. Having excellent sales implies nothing about whether or not it was lucrative. The opposite is also true, of course, just ask Apple, or Porsche.

    • by pmontra (738736)
      You're right. Nevertheless MS should still be worried if people buy chromebooks instead of Windows machines. Less sales, less profit for MS. The profit made by chromebook manufacturers doesn't matter. Actually I care about my profit, not theirs. It's much better for me if their margins are thin or even sell at a loss: it means more value for my money.
  • by richlv (778496) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:14PM (#45812909)

    can we hope that this means all hardware being perfectly supported by linux ?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:34PM (#45813051)

      The Acer C720 [amazon.com] Chromebook is Intel Haswell-based, and perfectly compatible with most Linux distros.

      Phoronix did an awesome review of linux on the C720 [phoronix.com] several weeks ago, and in short: it's awesome. It runs everything you'd need - movies, internet, USB 3.0, streaming, 7-8 hours of battery life. There is some issue to work out with the touchpad, but it's possible to run most distros out of the box with an external mouse, or by applying a kernel patch. This is temporary though - I'd expect the touchpad to be incorporated in due time.

      For $199, there's no better laptop on the market for Linux.

      • by m.dillon (147925)

        I just ordered one of these precisely for its small form factor and haswell guts. Haven't gotten it yet but I had been looking for something along those lines for over a year now. The only downside is that the internal storage uses a NGFF (M.2) SSD slot rather than a full-blown SATA port, so the amount of storage you can throw into it is limited.

        That said, I expect I can just upgrade the internals to ~64G and then connect up an external SSD via USB for higher capacity to backup my camera cards.

        -Matt

      • by Stryker2 (258706)

        I have one. I purchased it for browsing and watching streamed videos. The trackpad sucks, but it works well for online use, and it has a larger screen than tablets. I was using a Kindle Fire HD for wireless browsing, and this beats it hands down.

        I toyed with the idea of replacing ChromeOS, but I'm not so interested in tinkering any more.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:19PM (#45812939)
    it's that Windows 8 isn't.
  • by theodp (442580) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:59PM (#45813175)

    Dave Winer has some interesting thoughts on this [scripting.com], arguing that the Chromebook market was Microsoft's for the taking, but they instead chose to cut bait on netbooks, ceding the market to Google.

  • by jddeluxe (965655) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:07PM (#45813195)
    Chromebooks aren't for geeks, they're what you buy for your Mom/Dad/kids/salespeople so you don't have to play tech support because they can't be screwed up like a Windows laptop can.


    They are making great inroads into educational and some business markets for the same reasons, low acquisition and support costs.
    • by MoonFog (586818)
      How is that "missing the point"? Geeks are not exactly the vast majority here. Let's face it, we're actually a MINORITY when it comes to computing. I'm pretty sure Google will be pretty happy if they can hook the non-geek marked since that's where the money is. Getting Chromebooks for the mom/pop/younger siblings out there is exactly what Chromebooks are good at and it also happens to be a very, very large market.
  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:18PM (#45813261) Homepage Journal

    I'm kind of a "fanboi" of Simon Lin and Terry Gou. Many of the stories in /. seem blind or deaf to the history of the "white box" manufacturers and "ODM" (original design manufacturers) who build the gadgets that USA Operating Systems run on never seem to get their share of appreciation. Chrome and Android basically did what "white box" permission by IBM and MS did in the early 90s, but much more quickly... allowed Asians to invent and design stuff which is actually more affordable and better made than the originals. I remember people mocking and making fun of "Jap cars" like Datsun, and the "made in Japan" sticker being an object of derision. Then it was Hyundai and Kia and the Koreans. It seems like we have to learn the same lessons over Taiwan.

    BTW Lin is behind Wistron and Acer, Gou is behind Foxconn. Together they employ more engineers and inventors than anyone else.

  • ARM Sales (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695)

    Just curious how the ratio of ARM/x86 there was.

    It was really nice to see a ARM entry into the market, but no one seems to know its there..

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:36PM (#45813351) Homepage

    2014 will be the Year of the Linux Desktop!

    Of course, this isn't the kind of thing where everything actually changes all at once - what really happens is that slowly but surely most of the key functionality for computers is web-based, so as long as the protocols are well-understood and implemented by a bunch of different clients that leaves users free to choose operating system platforms on other factors (like freedom, price, or coolness) rather than the applications deciding for the buyer. And eventually, the threats that Microsoft makes when an OEM doesn't put Windows on everything will not have enough teeth to be effective.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They were Christmas gifts to a couple family members that mostly use computers for web browsing. In their case it was a perfect fit, and to my surprise, you can get a lot of functionality through Chrome apps for if you want to go beyond web browsing. I also specifically told them I could put another Linux distribution on them if they didn't like what it could do by itself, but I haven't got any such requests from either one.
    tl:dr, they're good computers for what I'd venture to say the majority of people use

  • by Tony Isaac (1301187) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @05:53PM (#45813769) Homepage

    Wintel has already lost teenagers, grandparents, and all those who use computers just for email and facebook. They have switched to phones, tablets, and now some of them to Chromebooks. If Chromebooks weren't around, they still wouldn't be buying Wintel, but Android or iOS.

    But...corporate America is still solidly entrenched, and they are just now moving on from Windows XP to Windows 7. In 10 years or so, when Windows 7 is as old as XP is now, That's when they will start to think about where to go next, and whatever it is, that option isn't around yet. So we'll see!

    • by rsborg (111459)

      But...corporate America is still solidly entrenched, and they are just now moving on from Windows XP to Windows 7. In 10 years or so, when Windows 7 is as old as XP is now, That's when they will start to think about where to go next, and whatever it is, that option isn't around yet. So we'll see!

      This is not my experience. I consult and visit quite a few customers, and I'm seeing more and more Macs around. Not just tech companies, insurance firms, colleges, etc.

      Macs are a non-trivial part of corporate purchases and increasing. Of course, this is because Microsoft pretty much lost out to open-source software and the web, and if you want a machine that can run Office (which sadly, isn't going anywhere as Excel is a truly entrenched product), Macs are decent hardware and a status symbol.

  • Was googling around, didn't see anything that had all critical components working.

  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Monday December 30, 2013 @06:22AM (#45816987)
    When I wad in the states recently, I was offended by how stores like BestBuy, Staples, Office Depot and others looked like they were intentionally misleading people into thinking they were buying a proper laptop (windows, mac... Even Linux.. Eww) by putting Chromebooks next to budget laptops on the shelf and not posting any warnings about their shittiness.

    Honestly, I have bought two ChromeBooks, a Samsung Series 7 Slate, two Surface Pros, a Surface Pro 2, 5 iPads, a Surface, a MacBook Air two Acer tablets in the past three years.

    My wife uses her iPad for eBooks for school. My kids watch films on their iPads... Funny how iTunes music store is a good enough reason to use iPad. I haven't touched anything other than Surface for over a year. We are mostly a Windows house though. It's about productivity and entertainment. We travel a lot too. The Chromebooks are useless... Especially on cross-Atlantic flights. The iPads are awesome because of battery life. The Surface Pro 2 is the winner though... 7 hours of battery life (plus battery keyboard soon) while watching films, programming, using Linux on multiple virtual machines. I can honestly say, if Microsoft releases a new Surface Pro once a year with better battery and all it costs is $1200, I'm in.

    As for ChromeBooks, I threw them in the closet since I wouldn't even give that trash away as it would just disappoint whoever got it.

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