Can Motorola Mobility's Webtop bail out Google's Chromebook?

Can Motorola Mobility's Webtop bail out Google's Chromebook?

Summary: What if the Chromebook ultimately is merely a docking station for Android devices? Businesses would certainly be interested.


Google may have this Chromebook thing all wrong. Luckily, Motorola Mobility, soon to be owned by Google, may have a better solution. It's quite possible that Google's Android plus Motorola Mobility's Webtop solves the search giant's Chromebook conundrum.

TechRepublic's Jason Hiner, writing on CNET News, provided an in-depth back story to Motorola Mobility's Webtop. AT&T made a splash with the Motorola Atrix and a dock that could turn an Android phone into a laptop. The pricing was off, but it was a good first effort. I tested one and could see the possibilities once a few things---quad core chips for example---fell in line.

Now this Webtop is being sprinkled into the enterprise via Verizon. And the dock has gone corporate too. Hiner explains:

While the original Lapdock was thin, slick, and brushed metallic, the Lapdock 500 Pro had a more utilitarian look in the mode of a MacBook Pro or a business-class HP laptop. Most importantly, Motorola finally got the price right. The original Lapdock was $499. Motorola sells the Lapdock 500 for $349, but the price at Amazon and other retailers is $249. Verizon regularly sells it for $149 when a customer buys it with a Motorola smartphone.

The big question is what Google will do with Motorola's Webtop technology. For starters, Google could use the Webtop to revamp its approach to the Chromebook. Today, the Chromebook is a laptop with a browser. Google recently tweaked the Chrome OS to look more like traditional operating systems on the desktop.

Also see: Google's latest Chrome OS: You now have a desktop, but...Google's new Chrome OS: Back to the future

Hiner noted that Google could integrate Motorola Mobility's Webtop directly into Android. The outcome would be that all Android phones could act as PC replacements.

If this scenario plays out, Google could popularize the Chromebook, which hasn't exactly become a best seller about a year after launch. Today, Google is trying to fashion a browser/OS to run a cloud laptop. What if the Chromebook ultimately is merely a docking station for Android devices?

The consumer play for this Android/Webtop/ChromeOS hybrid will be elusive, but businesses are going to be interested. That outcome may be good enough for Google, which has been trying to take the Chromebook corporate for the last year or so.

Topics: Security, Android, Google, Mobility

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  • Do the Math

    A top end smartphone + Webtop dock will cost more than $600. One can buy an ultrabook for that price with Windows 8.

    Chrome book is a bad idea, even with the motorolla Webtop. Make no sense.
    • They have been a flop here, just like the industry has shown.

      the innovation group purchased a few of them "sprinkled" them around from Geeks to Business to Geeks in the Business. Fail! They were all sent back after a few months, not used and not liked. The concept is great, but like a lot of concepts there is not a lot of support. Always connected devices still need a lot of infrastructure at LOW COST to support this. The fact that "Google recently tweaked the Chrome OS to look more like traditional operating systems on the desktop" says a lot...
    • This concept is just flawed

      IT Admins would hate them; little or no control. Security issues like malware. Increased complexity of environment ('Droid fragmentation rears it ugly head again)
      End Users will hate them (if we are to believe the masses of Windows 8 haters who will constantly remind us that 1 OS for multiple situations can't be right). Try spending the day doing real work on a netbook, that'll give you a flavour. Slooooow. For all the fart apps Android has, it doesn't have the app for your Finance department, or your HR dept, or that bespoke database that your sales team use... One day, all the above may be web-based and the number of legacy apps requiring x86 will drop to zero. But we aren't there yet.

      I know, I know, you could run everything on Citrix or some other virtualization platform, but again, some things still just don't work. I know, I've tried to run everything on thin clients.

      They'll have all the drawbacks of a phone and none of the benefits of a full-fledged desktop OS. Chromebook was and still is on life support. Google need to pull the plug, end of story.
      • The main failure

        Is the whole software as a service concept. Ubuntu, however, is working on a port to Android that will utilize the new generation, four core phones and allow a full desktop experience. I envision accessories like laptop/tablet docks and HDMI output with blue-tooth keyboards and mice to allow you to leverage the power of a full sized monitor hitting the market. This is likely the direction MS is hoping to take things and possibly Apple. I'm afraid Google will not be able to keep up if they keep pushing software as a servce.
      • virtualization

        Virtualization software should work as the apps streaming back end. Provided you don't run games and video intensive apps, it should work. Have you tried ThinServer XP ?
    • Smartphones are not a replacement of computers yet.

      The reason Microsoft didn't make Windows 8 available for smartphones is pretty simple: App developers for tablet and desktop apps think different than app developers for smartphones. The iPad is the perfect proof, there are many popular iPad apps which work specifically for the iPad (take for example Garage Band) that would never work on a smartphone. Storage space, most Windows 8 tablets will need 128GB or 256GB SSD drives to support complex apps (for example photo edition, video edition, 3D gaming, Office Suite, etc) and most modern smartphones don't have more than 16GB of capacity, with 3 or 5 of this apps your disk would be full.
      In other words, Chrome OS and Smartphones are still behind complex software and Microsoft is targeting the business and productivity users so they can use tablets as business devices and not just media consumption devices like Android and iOS build.
      Gabriel Hernandez
    • One can buy release version of Windows 8?

      My understanding is that it hasn't been released. Which makes your ultrabook running vaporware, with an optional FUD component.
  • of course it can

    the FOSS innovation will sprinkle success all over the new ecosystem.
    The Linux Geek
    • Smoke break over ...

      back to the fry station.
    • As a Linux Fan

      Speaking as a sometimes Linux Fan, Chromebook is overpriced for what it is.

      For less money, I can buy a basic laptop and install Linux Mint. That gives me everything that Chrome has, an a whole lot more functionality too.

      Sorry, Chrome is a good idea if it can be sold for say $150. But it isn't. So, it's overpriced.
      • CORRECTION ....

        For less money you can get:
        - A full featured notebook/laptop with much better hardware specs
        - A full featured OS (win/linux) with like 10 thousand times more functionality.
        - A device you can actually use OFFLINE.
  • Can Motorola Mobility's Webtop bail out Google's Chromebook?

    Nope, nothing can save the Chromebook because it was a bad idea from the start and its a project that is DOA. Whenever Google tries something new its always the kiss of death for that project.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • The Kiss of Death

      Indeed - Google is the new Microsoft...
  • I haven't seen one Chromebook in the wild

    but plenty of Windows and Apple laptops. Motorola's Webtop won't make it a Windows or OS X based device, which is the problem.

    It's clear that people don't want a Chromebook.

    All Chromebook ever was, was a device looking for a need.
    William Farrel
    • Yup

      Chromebook was a huge dud. Worse than just about anything out there in the past 10 years. Acer and Samsung got suckered in to sell them. Samsung was smart and got out early. I think Acer is still trying to sell them [the dumb a__es]. FRom one report, if I remember right, Samsung didn't even sell 5,000 of them.
  • Its not who makes a chromebook it's that chromebooks have

    no appeal too me and others it would seem.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • Again

    The Linux Geek.....Grow up.....

    Also, while i would buy an Android phone for people in my organisation to use as a phone, i would never allow them to do anything near my domain with it because of just how unsecure they are.
  • Lapdock 500 Pro

    Is a good 2nd generation product. I use mine with my Droid4 alot. With Motocast, i can access my home PC and it uses my phones 4G data plan when on the go. When quad core phones can be used with it, it will become an excellent product. For me, this is an ideal combination and I can see it becomming more popular to bundle the phone and a Lapdock together. I believe if Google/Motorola do rhe correctly, they will have a big seller. Being able to connect my phone & be up and running in just a few seconds is great, plus i can still make calls, access all my apps, video chat etc on one device. It really is a full on mobile office tool that can stand alone.
    • Tell me what you can do with yours that I can not do with mine?

      And as for mine I don't have ot be connected to do and get work done. I don't have to be connected to get my playing done either. I have my data always with me. Please give me a well thought our reason to even consider this option? Is there any advantage what so ever cause I can't see it.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • To each his own

        I happen to really like this product. It suits me great. It was compelling enought for me to buy one almost 3 months ago and it has become my primary "laptop". My job gives me a laptop for work, not personal use. I have a nice core I7 laptop at home. This Lapdock is my go to device now. Its quick, light, just the right size, has long battery life, charges my phone, has an excellent keyboard and I have access to everything I need for the vast majority of my personall needs pretty much wherever I am. I can take off for the day and not bring any chargers with me too. Most of my friends are pretty impressed with the functionality of the Lapdock 500. If it is not for you, then thats fine, it not for everybody. Once a phone with a quad core processor is available to dock with it, i think it will become even more popular.