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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 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 SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:17PM (#45812933) Homepage

    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 racing to the bottom doesn't work.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday December 29, 2013 @03:32PM (#45813019) Homepage Journal
    Also, for $99 you can upgrade the ssd to 128GB [amazon.com]. Now it's a pretty killer laptop for $300.
  • 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 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) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @04:23PM (#45813291) Homepage Journal

    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 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 29, 2013 @05:03PM (#45813481)

    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 their computers for, including said family members. I can see reason for Microsoft to be concerned.

  • 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} {at} {gmail.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 jedidiah (1196) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @06:45PM (#45814081) Homepage

    Auto Update is no silver bullet. Microsoft's problems are far more fundemental than that and always have been.

    They have spent their 30 years of market dominance trying to prove that cumputing has to be a dire experience. It's no shock that people flee them as soon as they they are able.

  • by akinliat (1771190) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @08:17PM (#45814653)

    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 fear to me.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday December 29, 2013 @08:22PM (#45814693) Journal
    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 vaporware. They used every trick in the book to leverage their monopoly status. They never learnt any new tricks and they can not thrive in a real level playing field without monopoly advantages.

    May be it is a harsh assessment, and company that big could never be managed well, not in fast changing computer business.

  • by Tough Love (215404) on Monday December 30, 2013 @01:22AM (#45816123)

    I always chuckle when someone tries to claim that Android being open source is somehow a problem. It's worked out well for Google...

    You're putting words in my mouth. It's not me who thinks Android open source is a problem that needs to be solved, it's certain elements of Google management. Dangerous wankers obviously but what's new.

We are Microsoft. Unix is irrelevant. Openness is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

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