What's wrong with Google's Chromebook?

Summary:Yesterday Google unveiled its Chrome OS devices - the Chromebook. While opinions seem divided, most people I'm hearing from don't see the Chromebook as something that they would want. But why?

Yesterday Google unveiled its Chrome OS devices - the Chromebook. While opinions seem divided, most people I'm hearing from don't see the Chromebook as something that they would want. But why?

Well, here are main reasons I'm hearing why people aren't all that jazzed by the Chromebook:

  1. Price - $28 per month for a business translates into $1,008 over three years, which is a lot of money what is essentially a netbook with very little local storage and an OS with 'limited' capability. Even buying the Chromebook outright still costs between $350 and $500, which is a lot of money for a netbook.
  2. Hardware - Current there are two general models from two OEMs (Samsung and Acer). There's very little choice.
  3. Cloud storage - The idea of cloud-only storage bothers people a lot. The idea that work stops if there's no WiFi or 3G (or if Google's servers go down) doesn't appeal to many. On top of that, there are a lot of people who view cloud storage with suspicion and wouldn't be happy with their data living on Google servers.
  4. Reliance on 'apps' - You can't just download and install just anything onto Chromebooks. The Chrome OS works with web-based apps. Many have concerns that these apps will be limited and inflexible.
  5. Updates - Chrome OS updates will be pushed automatically to Chromebooks. Some are concerned that this automatic updating could result in problems that would be outside of the control of the end user.

[poll id="631"]

[UPDATE: As if to underline why I don't want a Chromebook, here's what I was greeted with when I tried accessing my Gmail account ...

Ugh ...]

Despite all these negatives, some people are drawn to the upsides of Chromebook ownership.

  • Upgrades - That $28 a month, after 3 years, gets you a new Chromebook.
  • Support - Google Apps support is included, as is hardware replacements in case of problems.
  • Data safe in the event of hardware failure or loss - If, for some reason, you have to replace a Chromebook, all your data is safely stored on Google's servers, so getting back up and running is easy.
  • Price - $28 per month per seat is the cost of Windows for an enterprise users. With the Chromebook you get the hardware, software, data storage, support and new hardware every three years.
  • Security - Google claims that security is paramount when it comes to the Chromebook. For some, the idea of a well-locked-down, secure system is appealing.

So, there are upsides and downsides. Google claims that the Chromebook isn't for everyone and that some 25% of enterprise users wouldn't be able to work on a Chromebook, but that still leaves 75% who could - and it is those users that Google is targeting with the Chromebook. A poll over on my blogging buddy James Kendrick's blog indicates that some 70% won't be buying a Chromebook, and a further 16% aren't sure. In the feedback I'm getting, I'd say that the split of yes/no/maybe is about the same.

It seems to me that Google could might have a hard sell ahead.

What do you think of the Chromebook?

Topics: Google


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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