What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

Summary: Why do so many of us drool after luscious, high-priced Apple hardware (myself included), but Google's Chromebooks remain niche, utilitarian players?

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If my calculations are correct (because I'm that big a nerd), the new 11" MacBook Air I ordered will be coming into the Memphis FedEx superhub any minute now. Again, because I'm pretty nerdy, I was surprised to not see the typical Shanghai to Anchorage leg for my laptop (and a few thousand other Apple, HP, and Dell products that fly out of Pudong International every day). After all, FedEx invested heavily in Anchorage because of the ability to fly cargo through it easily with relatively short hops from most of the developed world (short hops=less fuel=more cargo). Then I saw it. One of FedEx's relatively new Boeing 777 extended range cargo jets, FDX Flight 90, now flies direct from Shanghai to Memphis.

Why do I share this shameful little story of geeky, gadget lust-driven OCD? I like Apple products, but I'd hardly consider myself a fanboi. If I'm a fanboi of any type, it's of the Google variety. Because I'm hardly the only one that Apple manages to lure to sights like FlightAware and FlightStats in the hopes of seeing just where that particular bit of Jobsian goodness might be on its journey to my laptop bag. Which, by the way, probably needs updating to accommodate my new diminutive computing companion.

A quick search for Shanghai to Anchorage flights yields almost exclusively results for people wanting to track their Apple shipments. People are really passionate about their Apple products, even if they're not particularly passionate about technology.

A little update, by the way. FedEx Flight 90 just landed in Memphis and my FedEx tracking status just updated (they sit side-by-side in a couple of browser tabs). My Mac is in Memphis: Boeing 777-200LR/F (long-range freight) to the rescue. Alaska no longer stands between me and Apple hardware. Just a 13-hour flight straight to the continental US, a mere single time zone away. So for those of you who just couldn't resist an updated Mac and live somewhere near the east coast, Flight 90 is your friend.

The point of all of this is Apple's ability bring out the inner gadget junkie in many of us represents something of a secret sauce. Compelling products + reality distortion field + short upgrade cycles = geeks who refresh their FedEx tracking pages a bit too often.

The MacBook Air that has me all a-twitter is really the ultimate netbook. Full-sized backlit keyboard, virtually instant on, and basically the size of an iPad. Oh yeah, and a Core i7 processor to boot. Google's Chromebooks actually fit the typical usage of a MacBook Air pretty well and the two have been compared ad nauseum. And yet, when it comes down to it, I bet there aren't too many people, no matter how geeky, tracking the whereabouts of their Chromebooks literally to the second as they near their destination.

I love my Chromebook and I think that Google has done something very cool with Chrome OS. If you live in the browser, it's a great tool and the business and educational applications are extensive. And yet, one of the more innovative products to hit the PC market in a long time landed on American shores with something of a sigh. Now if Apple had made a browser-only product, with great hardware and a brilliant screen, done something cool with an offline mode, and applied their marketing muscle, people would have been tracking their Safaribooks (I just made that one up) with the same zeal they apply to iPads and MacBooks.

The point? The Chromebook concept rocks. The implementation? It has a ways to go. The marketing? Well, let's just say that it's too bad the Apple folks don't talk to the Google folks very much anymore. They might learn a thing or two from each other.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Google, Hardware, Mobility

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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61 comments
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  • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

    <I>"The Chromebook concept rocks."</I><br><br>No. It doesn't. A online operating systems just simply don't work, and is more problems than it solves. The first one being no local storage. Giving my data (Or my employer's, my client's, etc...) to a vendor for <S>"safe"</S> keeping (Google is apparently deleting user profiles, so nothing is "safe") is a big no no. I don't care who your are, <B>YOU</B> keep your data, not some third party. If you can't handle it, then I suggest it's time to learn.<br><br>Having an OS like this means one thing: This is vendor lock in at its finest. I'm locked into using Chrome. I can't install and boot to, say, Firefox or IE. Guess what? I am now at the mercy of Google, and knowing how they like to rip the rug out from under you, that gives me the creeps. You're asking if this had been Apple's idea, but maybe you should also ask what if Microsoft had done this? Developed an OS based around IE. Maybe by asking that you can see the idea I'm trying to convey. IE is almost universally bad mouthed, because it had a monopoly over other browsers, which resulted in stale development. We were pretty much locked in until Firefox came along. Now, why should we (the users) be locked into using just Chrome? <br><br>No thanks. I'm not locking myself into Google. I'm sticking with offline operating systems that give me more bang for my buck, and most importantly, don't lock me into one vendor. <br>Spending $500+ on a Chromebook is just a waste of money for something that is only a bonafide brick. Take off your Google colored glasses and view the world from a different angle.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

      @Cylon Centurion
      The funny thing is as useless as the ChromeBook if it was a SafariBook it would have sold like hotcakes. Go figure.
      timiteh
      • You have it backwards..

        @timiteh ..there is no safariBook because no one wants these things.. Apple only sells products that people want.. not the other way around.. if/when people are ready, the networks are ready etc Apple will be there with a product but not before.. and as others have stated an iPad fits the same niche as a chromeBook, is same price and does more.. $500 browsers are a flawed concept.. we're not there yet..
        doctorSpoc
      • There are no SarfariBooks for a reason.

        @timiteh

        They would not sell regardless of who made them. That may be different in 2-5 years when network connectivity is cheap and ubiquitous.
        Bruizer
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @timiteh
        Why Apple would release safariBook? They have more powerful device on hand and works better than chromeBook, iPad.
        Ram U
      • I doubt it

        @timiteh That's one of the things Apple gets. An object of (tech) desire should be self-sufficient in some ways. Something that can use the internet, but just as cool and neat while disconnected.

        That's why there's a store full of apps - so that next time you're out and about without a rocket stick or built in 3G, you've still got movies to watch in iTunes, tunes to check out, and games to play.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @timiteh I agree. Many Apple products such as the iPad were bought *sight unseen*. People line up to buy Apple products before they even have a chance to use it. Call it faith in Apple but many Apple fans are just in love with Apple and not necessarily because they need the devices.
        -Hinano-
    • Uh

      @Cylon Centurion
      "No. It doesn't."
      Yes, it does.
      You see how easy that was? Now your opionion means nothing too. Because I just said so.

      Since your opinion is now worthless then all that nonsense you typed only applies to your world. I'm sure it's valid there, after all, you vallidate it, but out here? Means nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
      sportmac
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @sportmac <br><br>Cool story. That means yours means nothing too. Afterall, everyone be damned for expressing their opinions here.<br><br>Not to mention, I'm not the only one here who feels this way about this "OS". How is it doing in the market? Is it selling like hotcakes? Has it broke even yet? It it getting rave reviews? No? Oh....
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • His logic applies to 100's of millions of others worlds as well.

        @sportmac

        If not billions. The Chromebooks are Google's insistance in looking towards the past. Chromebooks are an attempt to return to the 1970's.
        Bruizer
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @cylon
        "That means yours means nothing too."

        Uh... Duh. How long did it take you to get that?
        sportmac
      • The difference between you and he

        @sportmac is that he then proceeded to write a couple of literate paragraphs: that thing traditionally known as "supporting arguments."

        Try it some time - it will increase your standing and win you friends!
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

      @Cylon Centurion <br>There is in fact local storage, it also supports external storage. And since that is true, the rest of your lock in rant is utterly useless. Want to move to another operating system, download your crap and transfer your data.
      30otnix
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @30otnix

        ChromeOS only has *limited* offline capability. If you go offline you have a bonafied brick on your hands. Why have that when I can have a machine that works offline and online, and does the job better?
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

      @Cylon Centurion and @doctorSpoc
      There is such a thing as a safariBook but it's really called iPad (also featuring vendor lock in and also $500+). Local storage, applications, etc. But if you don't have 3G, it's also just a local brick until you're in range of wifi.
      And before you get all ooh aah, the next big thing from Apple is called 'iCloud' stored in a datafarm. WOW!! what a great idea.
      Seriously guys, male and female, a Chromebook is a magnificent computer in comparison to an iPad. For an even better iPad, get an Android Tablet running Honeycomb.
      For everything else, get something else.

      And Cylon, "Google is apparently deleting user profiles"... you're either not fully up-to-speed or you're being disingenuous.
      "Apparently" you're a fanboy. No evidence, but there you are, once I've used "apparently" it's a fact you see.
      freetulisten
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        Did you just compare the Chromebook to an iPad? That's the funniest joke I have ever heard. My sister has an iPad, and it has the ability to type up documents offline, play games offline, and actually work offline in a meaningful way.

        And you definitely can't compare it to Honeycomb. I could have gotten a Chromebook instead of my Xoom. I didn't, because I felt the Xoom was more useful.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @freetulisten Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Funnier than the so-called Apple fanbois are the Anti-Apple fanbois. The stuff they cook up is hilarious.
        chadpengar
      • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

        @freetulisten <br>I think someone got really hurt because they spent $500+ on a brick aka chromebook and think it as a superb device. Nope, Sir, you got wrong. You are comparing Apples to Oranges. If you are comparing iPad to Xoom or other Android tablets, I give you one, but in this case chromeBook is totally different. With iPad WiFi alone you could be productive and do a lot until you back online, with chromeBook you have to be online. Why would Google give away 3G connectivity (100 MB per month quota) as free to chromeBook adopters, if you can do a lot with it without connectivity? Did you really ever thought about it from that angle?

        If I want a cheap solution that always will be online, I would buy a refurb laptop (under $200) and install Ubuntu and Open Office or Libre and get a prepaid 3G card. This would be cheaper and more productive than chromeBook. And I have flexibility of accessing, storing and deleting my "data" whenever I want.
        Ram U
    • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

      @Cylon Centurion
      +1
      Ram U
    • RE: What if Chromebooks were made by Apple?

      @Cylon Centurion

      Well said. The concept of the Chromebook is stupid. The only thing even more stupid are those (like Dawson apparently) that are willing to trust their data to Google. The cloud is nice in terms of augmenting your workflow, but it's not suited for replacing it. At least in concept, I like Apple's vision of cloud computing much better. Let's see if they can pull it off.

      Anyway, to answer Dawson's question. If Apple made the Chromebook, it would be more expensive, it would a world class piece of hardware, but it would still suck.
      techconc