Can you live in the Chromebook cloud?

Summary:The Google Chromebooks are coming, and at a decent price point that will surely attract casual users. What most folks will have to determine is can the cloud computing model work for everything?

The Google Chromebooks are coming, and at a decent price point that will surely attract casual users. What most folks will have to determine before picking up one of the shiny new Chromebooks coming next month, is can the cloud computing model work for everything? This is a hurdle that Google and its partners must overcome in the marketing of these new notebooks. If consumers buy them and run into even one task they can't do the reaction is going to be swift and loud.

I didn't participate in Google's Cr-48 beta program so I can't say for sure I can live in the Chromebook cloud completely. I have spent a few days in experimentation recently, just working in Google Chrome on a laptop as if I only had a Chromebook. That went pretty well, as I am someone who fits the cloud computing model perfectly. I live and work in a web browser all day, so it wasn't a big sacrifice on my part to live only in the browser all day.

Even so I still ran into a few things I just couldn't do, like getting photos off a camera memory card to use them in my work. I suspect given enough time I would find a way around this hurdle, in fact Google announced today that Chromebooks would soon handle SD cards. I still can't be sure a Chromebook alone would service all my needs, and I suspect I'm not alone in that regard.

The first two Chromebooks coming on June 15 are decent models from Samsung and Acer. They have 12.1 and 11.6-inch screens respectively, and will start around $350 for the consumer models. That's a good price point, and there are benefits for most home users with the Google Chrome OS model. The biggest benefit for most users will be the automatic system updating. People can be lax about keeping systems updated, and Chrome OS takes care of that perfectly. There's a lot to be said for self-updating systems that are always running the latest software and apps with no user intervention.

Whether the Google Chromebooks will take off is yet to be seen, but we'll soon know as they get ready for release. I suspect marketing will play a big role in how fast or not these devices are accepted by mainstream consumers. Google and partners would be wise to stress the ease of operation and lack of waiting for things to happen. They will also have to deal with the "can I connect my iPhone/iPod to it" question that's bound to be asked over and over.

Topics: Google

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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