I’ve been a Mac user since 1986, and edited a Mac magazine for a couple of years. I’ve contributed to MacGasm, MacFormat, and pretty-much anything that has the word “Mac” in its title. I attended more Steve Jobs keynotes than is healthy, and suffered the epic 3 hour Gil Amelio keynote which reduced even the hardest-bitten hacks to weeping babies. If there is such a thing as Mac spurs, I’ve earned them.
But as a technology writer, I’ve also always kept an open mind about other options. I’ve used Windows in anger (back in the days when a tablet PC meant Tablet PC, not an iPad). I’ve had Android phones. I’ve used my own cash to buy Android tablets (and boy, did I regret that one).
And in the past couple of years, anyone that follows me will know that I’ve also long been interested in the Google’s Chromebook concept. The idea of a machine which reflects how I actually work (mostly online) is attractive. It’s secure, fast enough, and I never have to worry about where any of my data lives. Almost all the software that I use on a day-to-day basis is web-based, and my browser is the application I use most often. Sometimes two of them. Continue reading
Trevor Pott, over at El Reg, makes an early entry into the “Doesn’t like this new-fangled world” competition with his piece on how “Netbooks were a GOOD thing and we threw them under a bus“. Pott’s demand of a machine – all-day battery life, a multi-tasking OS – aren’t outlandish, but his stalwart rejection of, basically, anything that isn’t a netbook running Linux marks him out as someone who really doesn’t understand the new world of “just works” computing.
Consider, for example, his rejection of the Chromebook as an option:
“Google could make Android a serious contender as a ‘good enough’ netbook OS in a very short timeframe. The web giant won’t because it views Android as its touch-based consumptive tablet and phone OS, and ChromeOS as the desktop replacement. ChromeOS is entirely reliant on internet connectivity and keeps you trapped into doing everything using SaaS apps; great for Google because it can ruthlessly invade your privacy in order to sell more advertisements. Bad for us because it cripples the OS in order to achieve this goal.”
Where to begin with this? Aside from the “ChromeOS is entirely reliant on internet connectivity” error (it’s not), saying that ChromeOS “keeps you trapped into doing everything using SaaS apps” is a bit like saying Windows “keeps you trapped into doing everything with Windows apps”. And there’s no compulsion on you to use Chromebooks with Google services: mine happily works with iCloud and Microsoft Online services (yes, including Office web apps).
And of course, the iPad also fits Pott’s bill…
Daring Fireball Linked List: Acer and Chrome OS, Sitting in a Tree:
“Sounds like Chrome OS is starting to get some traction, but I do wonder if actual sales match the ‘shipments’. Looking at my stats here at DF, Chrome OS accounted for 0.04 percent of traffic over the last four weeks.”
I don’t think John has really thought this through. Even if ChromeOS devices had accounted for 10% of all computers sold in the last year (which no one would claim, as they’re not even available in many markets), that would still amount to a tiny proportion of the total number of installed computers worldwide. Neither shipments nor sales tell you the story of installed base, and installed base is what visitors to a site is a measure of.
As for the shipments/sales issue, I’d point to this tweet from a Dixons employee which states that in stores where they have “Chrome Zones” with Chromebooks on sale, they make up 10% of their notebook sales. That’s “sales”, not “shipments” – as in real people walking out of the door with them.
Acer President: Windows 8 is “not successful” but Chrome notebooks are winners | Computerworld Blogs:
To make up for the disappointing sales of Windows 8 devices, Acer is looking elsewhere. And right now, it’s finding that Chrome has been surprisingly successful. Acer released Chrome notebooks for $199 in November, and Chrome now accounts for between 5 percent and 10 percent of Acer’s U.S. sales. It’s been so successful that Acer may roll it out to other developed markets.
Add this to the data point revealed by a Dixons/PC World employee a while ago which claimed that where they sell them, Chromebooks have made up around 10% of their laptop sales, and you begin to a see a picture that should be worrying to Microsoft. Chromebooks are essentially eating the low-end of what was the netbook market: Small, cheap, light computers with limited functionality.
But unlike Windows-based netbooks, Chromebooks are much more secure, and they have the power of web apps. And unlike netbooks, they actually run web apps really well.
With tablets – by which I mean the iPad, of course – eating the higher end of the netbook market and Chromebooks taking the lower ground, Microsoft really should have reason to worry. Windows 8 doesn’t seem like the answer, and if Windows 8 fails to gain momentum, it would be a massive blow to Microsoft. When even Windows a stalwart like HP is starting to make Chromebooks, things don’t look so good in Redmond.
I’ve been promising that I’d give an update on the Chromebook challenge that I undertook a while ago, but one thing and another have meant that I haven’t really had enough time to do it. But, finally, here it is. Continue reading
As the first post about my Chromebook challenge experience, I thought I’d take a look at what Chromebooks are actually like to use, from the perspective of a Mac user. The model that I’m using is the Samsung Series 5, and I’ve actually had it for a few months. When we were burgled earlier in the year, rather than replace my beloved stolen MacBook Air 11in, I decided to spend a whole lot less money on something that filled the same need for a small, reasonably light, “throw in your bag” occasional computer. I was also, of course, curious about ChromeOS and decided that I needed to know more about it.
While the Chromebook hasn’t been in use as my main machine, I’ve used it enough over the past few months to get an idea of its strengths and weaknesses, so it seems like a good place to start to talk about them. Continue reading
A while ago, I wrote a column for Tap on the differences between Apple and Google’s vision of “the cloud”, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) came down hard on the side of Apple’s. iCloud, as I saw it, was very much the more user-centred version.
The iPad and Chromebook represent two different views of the future of cloud computing. In one – the Chromebook – the applications as well as the data live in the cloud. In the other – the iPad – applications remain firmly on the desktop (or mobile), while the data floats wherever it needs to go.
Jason Perlow asks a pertinent question:
It’s important to note that if we had the Chrome browser on an Android tablet, why would we want a Chromebook? For the price of a Chromebook you could pick up an Android tablet with a keyboard that connects via dock or bluetooth. You would have the same functionality, plus the added capabilities of Android.
You would also have something running on a massively-less secure operating system, which is currently a prime target for malware authors.
I’m currently using a Chromebook as my main mobile machine, having had my beloved MacBook Air stolen. Using one is a culture shock, and it’s a profoundly different view of the world. But I’d much rather have it than a crappy Android tablet and some kind of hokey docking station (the keyboard on the Samsung is lovely).