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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 on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:08PM (#45812863)

    No.

  • 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.

  • by pmontra (738736) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:31PM (#45813009) Homepage
    I don't think tablets are a fad. They are a zero maintenance and more mobile version of the laptop, much better for the vast majority of people that had to use a computer in the past 20 years only because of the Internet. They're now free from much of the hassle of managing a computer. Chromebooks might be a fat tablet for the guys that really need a keyboard but still don't need a traditional OS. Disclosure: I don't own a tablet because I don't have any clear use case for it. I need to use a "real" laptop and I have a smartphone, tertium non datur.
  • 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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:33PM (#45813331)

    my girlfriend's mother bought a chromebook for her younger brother for christmas. they are very un-tech savvy and the only computer in the house is in mom's bedroom. all she wanted was something cheap and troublefree that would keep him off her computer playing facebook games. it's like she was already describing the chromebook before i suggested it. some people are totally casual users and only relate to a computer like it's a xbox or cell phone. the only thing they ever install is malware on accident. these people aren't creatives, office workers or students...they're children, blue collar laborers, the elderly...basically the family members that bug us with silly computer questions. there are a lot of those people out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:43PM (#45813377)

    You are using an OS specifically designed as spyware and you are using it for online banking and other financial activities?? Seriously??

  • 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 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 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 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 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.

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