Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

Summary: If it weren't for Android, Google would have a pretty lousy record when it comes to working with hardware manufacturers. Google TV has been a bust to date (though the latest update may help resuscitate the platform), and sales of Chromebooks, systems that run the search giant's Chrome OS, have been very modest.

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If it weren't for Android, Google would have a pretty lousy record when it comes to working with hardware manufacturers. Google TV has been a bust to date (though the latest update may help resuscitate the platform), and sales of Chromebooks, systems that run the search giant's Chrome OS, have been very modest.

And that's putting it mildly. According to DigiTimes, Acer has only sold 5,000 Chromebooks since it launched them last summer, and Samsung has supposedly sold even fewer of its Chromebooks. Those numbers make the BlackBerry PlayBook sales figures look like a rousing success in comparison.

Despite those abysmal numbers, Google hasn't given up extolling the virtues of Chrome OS, with executive chairman Eric Schmidt talking it up in a speech earlier this week. In theory, it does have some advantages, like far speedier boot-up times than Windows systems, but the fact that it forces users to rely on the cloud for all of their application needs is a significant drawback when you're not connected to the Internet.

Should Google give up on its Chrome OS and Chromebooks? If not, how can it improve sales? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section.

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Google, Operating Systems

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Talkback

17 comments
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  • What a rip off

    $500 for a glorified linux netbook with a cheap atom processor. No wonder they aren't selling any chromebooks. I could load linux mint on a similar samsung netbook for half the price. If google wants to move these, they will need to do more than slap the Google name on it. Google doesn't have enough credibility to sell them.
    zmud
    • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

      @zmud
      m$ doesn't have any credibility in IT and never has - that hasn't prevented them from making a lot of money (true, they have been willing to break the law and that helped a lot).
      vasu@...
    • Wake up dude. It's November now.

      @zmud
      Hello, Google has already sold out the $249 macbook killer chromebook into the market. Also, $199 Acer chromebook's on the market now. So, why on earth are people still mentioning about the old model chromebooks ?
      Myo Mon
  • It's al about the right pricepoint.

    I like the idea of a chromebook and can think of lots of ways that 8-hour battery life and instant on would come in really handy. But the obvious:

    You may not find another case that's quite as sexy as that Samsung Series 5 for less than $400, but you can sure get a lot more bang from other netbooks for more than $100 less. Every time I've considered that Series 5, I've thought about other notebooks on which I could do so much more.

    I'm not sure what Samsung could do to get that price down... Perhaps a cheaper display, a smaller SSD drive (don't think it really needs 16 gig when you have an SD card slot and you can get 32gb USB keys at best buy for $40)... Maybe Google needs to subsidize them and bank on the ad revenue returns. I don't know. What I do know is that if the Series 5 was $250, I'd have a hard time not buying it.
    LooseWingnut
  • I'll probably never buy anything running Chrome OS ...

    ... but if I were running Google, I'd continue to invest in it. The reasons are: (1) it may put some pressure on Microsofts margins (though not much, judging by the sales figures); (2) if it ever does succeed, the payoff to Google will be enormous. Chrome OS would completely lock users into Google's ecosystem, allowing it to extract even more in advertising rents and erect even higher barriers to entry in search.
    WilErz
    • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

      @WilErz Aren't we already locked in Microsoft's or Apple's ecosystems?
      yphilogene
      • Not to the same degree.

        @ yphilogene

        Barriers to entry in the PC and mobile phone ecosystems are much, much lower than barriers to entry in web search. The continued existence of free operating systems like Linux, in many cases without subsidies (e.g. from hardware or services firms), is very strong evidence of this. If you don't like Windows, you can install Linux or buy a Mac. If you don't like Mac OS, you can install Linux or Windows. If you don't like iOS, you can install Linux or buy an Android/Windows phone.

        If you're an advertiser (Google's actual customers) and you don't like Google, what can you do? In the US, maybe you can advertise via Bing, but you'll immediately reduce your audience from about 70 per cent to about 30 per cent of the potential market. In most of Europe, Bing is still a 'beta' (including in Germany, which is the largest market in Europe), with insignificant market share, and Google effectively control the entire web search market.

        The tricky thing is that advertisers won't switch until audiences switch. Without advertisers (customers), there's no revenue. Without revenue, the enormous costs of building and maintaining a search infrastructure lead to enormous losses. As a result, only firms with very deep pockets can even think about competing. This isn't like PCs (or in some cases even mobile phones) where you can offer cheap or even free alternatives, and customers can switch to them for free.

        One of the cleverest tricks Google have managed to pull to keep away the competition authorities has been to claim that their customers are web search users, who can switch to a competitor with a click of the mouse. In fact, Google's customers are advertisers, who are far more locked into Google's web search platform than customers of Microsoft, Apple or Intel have ever been locked into any of their respective platforms -- especially here in Europe, where switching from Google to anything else would mean an advertiser would lose perhaps 95-99 per cent of the audience.

        Google's trick has worked so far, but it's transparent to anyone who understand the technology and has studied the market. I think the competition authorities will catch on eventually. When they do, Google may be in very serious trouble.
        WilErz
    • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

      @WilErz
      m$ has been milking their 'business' customers more and more - each version of office and windows cost more. Moreover, even license renewals for SAME versions are costing more. They are having to make up for lost sales to apple, google (docs) and others by squeezing remaining customers.
      vasu@...
    • Wrong statement

      I accept with everything, but I object in one statement. You said that there will be advertising rents. No, that's totally wrong. I am now using the $250 macbook killer chromebook and it is really fast, smooth, with no commercial. This chromebook blocks all the ads whether mac and pc are studded with thousands of commercials. Also, do not forget. google.com is the site where you visit everyday.
      Myo Mon
  • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

    Stateless client devices like the Chrome Netbook and Android Tablets/Phones are here to stay. Personal data storage and umbilical chords like iTunes are legacy/defunct technology. I don't use any client device that requires me to manage updates, download patches or OS updates, or store data locally. I have lost too much data when a hard drive fails or when switching phones. What a pain!

    Google should stick with the strategy and product lines and invest more in marketing. They are 3 years ahead of consumer adoption, plain and simple.
    Ron Anon
  • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

    @WilErz Thanks for your answer. I think you make a point. Even though I think it is different as Google is not imposing anything. Advertisers could go to Facebook for example and still target a great audience. Of course, Google have the lion share of the web audience. You just can't do without them. I understand the position of organisation like Mozilla who's trying to keep the web open. However, my position is the following: I'm not giving any money to Mozilla, so I'm not helping to keep the web open. Meanwhile, I'm using Google's services, for free, knowing that being part of their audience, I contribute to their business model. So I've made my choice (maybe it's the easiest and cheapest one), but I'm not complaining. If people really want an open web, then they should donate to Mozilla. Nothing is free in this world.
    yphilogene
    • I disagree about Mozilla.

      @ yphilogene<br><br>Thanks for the reply as well, but I disagree about Mozilla.<br><br>Mozilla is primarily funded by Google advertising, so it's effectively just another cog in the Google advertising machine. Developing web browsers requires resources, but since they've tended to be given away (starting with Mosaic), they have to be subsidised by something else. That can be hardware (Safari), other software (Internet Explorer and formerly Netscape Navigator) or advertising (Chrome, Firefox).<br><br>On the whole, I think an advertising-driven model with a dominant firm reduces welfare (i.e. makes society less well off), because it allows the dominant advertiser to collect rents from the rest of the economy, and breaks the price mechanism that allows markets to function. Google's rents are effectively integrated into the prices of all goods/services produced by firms that advertise on the web, so consumers end up without any real choice, or even understanding of how much they're actually paying to Google.<br><br>It's perfectly sensible for you to use Google's 'free' services, since you have to pay for them whether or not you use them (via advertising rents). The question is whether this sort of scheme should be allowed by regulators. I tend to lean towards a negative answer.
      WilErz
  • ref. Not to the same degree.

    first things first:
    Advertising is not only internet.
    meandnotme
  • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

    guys make it as a real notebook. change the screen as touch enabled and provide a magnetic pen. make d chromebook as fully foldable one, so one can use it as a notebook and also a netbook.. so noone needs morethan a chromebook.. ofcourse price should b reduced man.. its not dat worthy... -karthick,INDIA
    karthickchelvan
  • worth every penny to me

    I got one, for my mom. Sure, I could have got "more" for the same price, but mom don't do "more". Mom does facebook and email and browse's. So why's it worth it? Well, automatic upgrades, no upgrade costs, no virus' and no anti virus cost. And no support calls to me anymore.

    Sure, there are nerds having a fit over the very idea, who will go on and on about spec's, but she don't care. I tried explaining to her the concept and her eyes glossed over. Just get her on facebook with her grandkids.

    There's no downside to this.
    oneleft
  • RE: Poor sales of Chromebooks won't stop Google from promoting Chrome OS

    The acer Wi-fi is consistently sold out on amazon with each new shipment since going down to $299.00... I think the poor sales are in the minds of tech writers because they are selling.
    codecrackx15
  • chromebook is #1 in laptop sales on amazon! zdnet author untrustworthy!!

    chromebook is #1 in laptop sales on amazon! this article's author, editor untrustworthy!!
    captainhurt@...