Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

Summary: Google Chromebook buyers---whether via Acer or Samsung's netbook---are going to be a self-selecting bunch. And the likely buyers of the Chromebook remain businesses not consumers.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Google
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The early Google Chromebook reviews illustrate a conundrum for these devices that will play out on retail shelves and in the enterprise. How exactly will success be defined and how many of us will really pay to be beta testers?

Let's face it. Google Chromebook buyers---whether via Acer or Samsung's netbook---are going to be a self-selecting bunch. Consider:

  • CNET's review says the Samsung hardware, battery life and start-up times are great. However, CNET won't recommend the Chromebook "until and unless Google improves the Chrome OS." The biggest beef is opening ZIP files, photo editing in the cloud and the need for a constant Internet connection. But here's the problem: The Chromebook isn't for folks that want offline capability sometimes. In other words, the Chromebook is for the consumer that’s all cloud all the time.
  • Engadget acknowledges that the Chrome OS has real limitations at this time. The upshot: Engadget is betting that Google will fix the OS over time.
  • And then there's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. He's an open source guy that'll live in the cloud and not blink. Vaughan-Nichols liked the battery, life, hardware, keyboard and knocks naysayers complaining about being offline. After all, you can save music, documents and video to the local solid state drive. It's not ideal, but the Chromebook isn't a doorstop without a net connection. Bottom line for Vaughn-Nichols is that the Chromebook is a nice complement to his laptop.

Everyone agrees that the Chromebook needs to be cheaper.

In the end, consumers will vote with their dollars and I have a tough time seeing folks drop $500 on a browser-based netbook when there are shiny tablets everywhere. Of course, Google fans will be all over the Chromebook, but that's a crowd of an undetermined size.

The real kicker here is that it really doesn't matter what consumers think. The Chromebook could flop at retail and the only companies that will care are Samsung and Acer (and maybe Best Buy). Meanwhile, it's possible that Samsung and Acer don't care about consumer sales. Why? The Chromebook is an enterprise play and Samsung and Acer will happily take the business sales.

As noted before, the Chromebook will be attached to Google Apps deals. IT execs will give Chromebooks a whirl via pilots and mix and match devices. The corporate Google Apps customer is a natural audience to the Chromebook. In the end, Google doesn't have to sell the Chromebook to the masses just to the CIO looking to minimize her desktop management costs.

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Topics: Mobility, Google

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  • Business Case

    Isn't the Google Business Case for the ChromeOS based on getting more people to use their Web Services, and so increase the amount of data they can collect and so serve more and better Ads. Does this not fly in the face of every enterprise security principle, also, how much time to enterprise workers spend on Youtube, Blogger and Picassa? Also, the nature of an IT exec is that there is quite a bit of travel, how can they rely on wireless network coverage in hotels and other customer sites? To have a ChromeBook as a light weight companion to a full notebook that has the same capabilities plus more seems counterintuitive

    To say that Google and its partners aren't aiming the ChromeBook at consumers (the ones that use the Google Services) seems quite illogical.
    Bondswa
    • What

      @Bondswa makes you think that google business works like that? You're applying the free google services to a business model.
      landsw
      • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

        @landsw I understand that Google Apps for Business is a paid subscription service, And thats all good and well, Chrome OS well may encourage use of that service. But my take was that Google wanted Chrome OS to encourage use of all its online properties, including the free ones, I didn't see the enterprise as the biggest market for those offerings.
        Bondswa
      • Free services? How much are the chargeing for Chrome OS?

        @landsw
        I understand your position if they are charging, making a profit from Google Chrome, but if they are giving it away your argument is a wash.
        Cayble
      • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

        @landsw

        Because I've tested them for my business and they suck, hence why we're not using them.
        audidiablo
    • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

      @Bondswa

      I think you're partially right, but also underestimating Google's market timing. The broader consumer market isn't really ready for an always connected device. The internet just doesn't have 100% coverage.

      I'm assuming that Google understands that, and is focusing most of it's current Chrome OS efforts on the enterprise, since it's a controlled environment where employers can ensure there is WiFi where these devices will be used. Their non-consumer leasing deals hints at this.
      Caffeinated85
      • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

        @Caffeinated85

        Their market timing sucks. Also people are ready for an always connected device, this is called a Smart Phone. If they have that the few things they need at any moment that are simple is already at their fingertips by Smart Phone.

        If Google understands that the internet just doesn't have 100% coverage why push a device that requires 100% of the internet? If an enterprise looses connectivity at the circuit at the street cutting all network connectivity I/O from the business... How do people get work done then? How do people communicate by email or send projects to one another if they are all in the "Cloud" outside of your business? Furthermore what happens when a group like LuLz gets around to it? Yeah bout that. Keep your critical data in house, safe and just keep your security up to date. GFail
        audidiablo
    • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

      @Bondswa

      Only fringe, one man operations, techno-geeks, penny pinchers and those "businesses" who cannot or will not afford to pay for MS or Corel Office suites would talk or consider, or even use Google Office.

      Online, web based office productivity suites and services are not for business, they are fun little experiments to divert attention and increase name recognition. They do generate revenue, both directly and indirectly.
      Raid6
      • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

        @Bondswa <br>There are quite a number of small and medium businesses and a few large ones use Google apps for domains. The gmail for domains is brilliant - beats MS Exchange. Google Docs is fine if you are not using it as a typesetting document creator. <br><br>The real kicker is the cost saving over running your own servers for email, document sharing, and installing and maintaining the corresponding Microsoft desktop applications.<br><br>My previous employer shifted over from Microsoft based solutions to Google apps for domains. A lot of people were sceptical about it initially. There was a huge saving and improved work efficiency as a result - mainly due to easier information sharing and not requiring manual backing up to servers. Google apps for domains really is incredibly low maintenance compared to Microsoft solutions. For any small business or any business that doesn't have excessive lock-in to Microsoft products, it's a no brainer.

        It is interesting that after my previous employer switched to Google Apps for domain and was very happily using it for several months, the previous Microsoft partner firm called to ask why we had not renew various Microsoft desktop app and server support licenses. His response was incredulity much like many posting here: why would someone want to use Google Docs when MS Office has more features? Geeks and technicians are so technical feature focused, that they just don't to be able to see the appeal of simplicity, ease of use, and low maintenance.
        Mah
    • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

      @Bondswa <br>They are not aiming it at consumers at this stage, because they are offering it only online. They are offering it to schools and businesses and technical early adopters who will be able understand what they are getting in the the quantum change in usage paradigm, plus there are a few rough edges still to be ironed out and additional features to be added (in future automatic updates) before it can go to mass consumer usage. These are offline Google Docs apps, handling of zip files in the file browser, Native Client plug-ins, etc. They are also looking for customer feedback in their school and business deployments.

      It is a very good consumer device however, and I am sure it will be marketed widely for the consumer market in future.
      Mah
  • A Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with the first step

    I guess one has to start somewhere. As I recall, the first iPod model could be considered "expensive" if compared to the latest iPod Touch units.

    The initial prices for these first gen units will be greater than the third or fourth gen models (if Chromebooks make it that far) and I suspect that they will.

    But here's the kicker. Everyone assumes that Google will be the sole provider of Cloud based services - hence the need for Chrome OS. Microsoft and Apple are both transitioning towards Cloud based business models. Who's to say that in four years or less, Microsoft and Apple won't have their own "Chromebooks".

    I have recently read online that Apple has the ability to "Restart to Safari" in the latest OS X Lion build. This feature allows unauthorized users (those without logins) of the Mac the use the computer as a web kiosk. (as reported in TUAW) This feature sort of sounds like Chrome OS to me.
    kenosha77a
    • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

      @kenosha7777

      It seems like you've missed a lot of things associated with the cloud to date. Skydrive is a cloud service that has been around since 2007... That predates any of Google's offerings as well as Apple's iCloud. Apple also had MobileMe which was free online storage... Office is also available free online for all MSN, Hotmail, Live... etcetera... users which over half a billion people already use including myself. Why lose the ability to work offline? Why lose the ability to do rich full featured tasks offline and rely on a low res, ultra limited offering in the "cloud"? Cloud is a great addition but not solution. Think of your data as your children... Would you force your kids to play in traffic? Would you like some hacker group to come along and make rain?

      The browser has existed for decades, nothing new. Chrome OS is just an attempt to take peoples rights away and abilities away. Why not just use your favorite web browser on your favorite platform and do all the same but preserve the ability to do things offline? Sounds like a no brainer but it seems there are many with no brains out there.
      audidiablo
  • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

    Chrome book as a enterprise tool is utter nonsense. Any exec who has a bit of self-respect won't be carrying around one of those.
    owlnet
    • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

      @owlnet

      Probably not, but any exec that is interested in the Google Apps suite, might be for his/her workers. Most enterprise level companies have many more people than just an exec...
      Caffeinated85
      • Ya, ...but you just don't get it.

        @Caffeinated85
        Follow this, its easy. NO HOW NO WAY is any exec who wants to keep his job going to push this trash onto their employees, risk losing ALL productivity the first time the internet goes down.

        Who wants to answer for that debacle??? Not me, not you (if your smart) not anyone.

        When the net goes down, its seldom the exec's fault, if ever. Perhaps if he ordered lousy equipment, or contracted with a crap ISP, but otherwise, the occasional net outage is usually not the exec's fault.

        If an exec thinks an "on the net all the time" Chrome OS laptop is the way to go and lets say orders up 5 dozen, or perhaps way more for his employees, and suddenly at some point in the not too distant future they have a very nasty net outage, well, bye-bye to all those notebooks productivity.

        And that my friend would be the fault of any IDIOT who would foist these pieces of nonsense onto their workers. What year does Google think this is? 2111? Nope, its still 2011 and the world is not so ready for this yet that any self respecting exec is going to put his neck on the block for Google.

        And why? Why should anyone even think this is a decent idea? This whole pie in ski cloud thing right now is a solution without a problem! Why do we need this?? Please remind me of why, WHY do I or anyone NEED to start doing everything from the cloud?

        The fact is we don't. There really is no reason. None. Zero. Zippo. Nada. Look at the price for storage now. its so cheap its embarrassing! What is it about cloud computing thats going to be so much nicer?

        Has Google even heard of Lulz Security?? Look it up on your search engine Google!! This has got to be the worst possible of times to even be thinking of cloud computing on a large scale unless its your specific goal in life to help Google create the largest and most interesting target possible for Lutz, or who ever is next up to bat in the hacker community.

        Google blew it and I'm betting it will not be long before there is a quiet and subtle withdrawal from the market.
        Cayble
      • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

        @Caffeinated85

        Please point to any "execs" who use or champion the use of Google Apps in their companies. If you find one then he or she does not do any accounting, does not do any spreadsheets, does not write any complex letters, does not conduct any meetings, and does not exist.

        You can write simple letters, create VERY SIMPLE spreadsheets with a few columns and rows of simple data with very SIMPLE calculations, and for email....c'mon....for business GMAIL stinks!

        Have you used Office with Exchange (even cloud based), it is awesome. Business also embraces Blackberry (yes they do) and increasingly iPhone. Where do these fit into the ... uh um .... Google Apps eco system?
        Raid6
      • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

        @Caffeinated85

        I'm sorry. I have to agree with Cayble. Storage is so cheapt it is embarrasing.

        Im not sure why companies would want to fork out extra cash to obtain more storage on a monthly subscription or yearly subscription plan for storage they already have...

        If the internet goes down, its lost revenue. Look at how much Sony lost during the Playstation network outage. They bring in $500 million from Playstaion network each year. Just do the math and you'll see how much money they lost for that one month they were down.

        In todays current technology, if the internet goes down, you can continue working and everything will resume when the internet comes back up. If you move everything to the cloud, your just SOL when the internet dies until it comes back...

        Still not sure how Chromebook will take off cause alot of people return the netbooks they get anyway. It also poses as privacy risk when people that are not computer savvy put their chromebooks up for sale at a later time..

        TechGuyChris
        TechGuyChris
    • RE: Google's tepid Chromebook reviews meaningless: It's all about business

      @owlnet
      I don't know. Chromebooks are quite cool. iPhones and iPads are quite popular with execs for this reason.

      I think execs are likely to get these for themselves and pass on their old laptops to junior staff.

      Chromebooks are also a much better fit for executive use than Windows laptops. Basically Chromebooks give you more time to actually do work and wasting less configuring and maintaining your computer. Execs don't want to spend time configuring Windows, troubleshooting drivers, defragging the hard drive, manually backing up files up to the cloud.

      Executives also don't generally want to spend their time formatting complex word processing documents or using Photoshop - that for junior staff typists and graphics designers. Google apps is much simpler and much better suited to executive use than MS Office. Don't forget that these are guys who are used to using Blackberries as their main communicatiomns device. Plus the most the important requirement for executive devices is to stay in communication. Therefore working offline (although it will be possible once Google reinstates offline support this summer) isn't as much of a benefit to an executive as being connected, and with WiFi and 3G, that is what Chromebooks are designed to do. The long 8.5 hrs plus continuous use battery life, quick boot, and instant resume are all big pluses.

      Yes you can get 10 hours advertised battery life for Windows netbooks and laptops, but if you look at reviews that actually test the battery life, you realise that the Windows battery life is measured with no applications running, and the screen brightness turned down. It you actually run typical applications, your battery life drops to 4 to 6 hours from the 10 hours advertised.
      Mah
  • OK...but?

    When Google has their marquee customers, like the City of Los Angeles, geared up for a potential lawsuit and tepid reception of Google Apps in the enterprise space, what do you have?

    Reviews, except from the most strident fan boys, are tepid. There appears to be no pent-up consumer demand. Enterprise customers that are rejecting Google apps have no incentive to adopt it. It is priced beyond the disposable toy price point. So......... who is going to buy this expensive thin client?
    Your Non Advocate
  • Two Words

    Still Born.
    NoAxToGrind