Chromebooks: Long term threat to Intel

Chromebooks: Long term threat to Intel

Summary: Talk about Chromebooks and the conversation will eventually turn to the threat they are to Microsoft and Windows 8. That is true, but the lowly laptop from Google may be a bigger concern for Intel.

SHARE:
81
No Intel

Chromebooks: You either love them or hate them, but you have to admit they are making inroads into the mobile computing space. Schools are snapping them up and consumers are becoming aware of the cheap laptops running Chrome OS.

Microsoft realized early on that Chromebooks were a threat to the dominance it enjoyed with Windows in the computing world. Some of the first ads for Windows and its Surface tablets were aimed squarely at the Chromebook.

See related: The big advantage of the Chromebook over Windows, Macs

If Chromebook sales continue to grow, they do represent a threat to Microsoft in the long term. Windows will still be the 800lb gorilla in the enterprise, though, so the exposure is not as bad as it could be.

That's also the case with Intel, the maker of the CPU that until recently was found in virtually every PC on the planet. Even Microsoft's competitor in the PC space, Apple, has Intel inside.

It's going to get worse with Nvidia entering the Chromebook market, as its Tegra processor is a good fit for the laptops with Google inside.

Speaking of Intel inside, that brings to mind the wildly successful marketing campaign from the chip maker. Most likely if you sat down in front of a computer, you were confronted with that little sticker that made it clear that Intel was powering it.

This had the effect on computer users to subconsciously equate the PC with Intel. Everybody knew that Intel was running the show, dancing techs in clean room suits and all. If it was a computer, Intel was inside it somewhere doing its magic.

The tide began to turn when Microsoft introduced Windows RT to run on systems with ARM processors instead of Intel. The chip giant couldn't have been happy about that, and there were probably some back room meetings between Microsoft and Intel discussing the change.

Special Feature

BYOD and the Consumerization of IT

BYOD and the Consumerization of IT

The Bring Your Own Device phenomenon is reshaping the way IT is purchased, managed, delivered, and secured. Our editors and analysts will delve into what it means, the key products involved, how to handle it, and where it’s going in the future.

Windows RT didn't go anywhere, so Intel executives likely breathed a collective sigh of relief. That feeling of business as usual didn't last very long, as laptops running Chrome OS from Google snuck into the picture.

Most Chromebooks use Intel processors, so it's not a lost cause. But some of them run those pesky ARM chips like Windows RT systems, and that means no Intel inside.

It doesn't help matters that Chromebooks with ARM processors run extremely well and have done OK in the market. The lightweight OS is designed to run well on lesser hardware, and that means no Intel technology is needed.

It's going to get worse with Nvidia entering the Chromebook market, as its Tegra processor is a good fit for the laptops with Google inside. That must worry Intel more than a little. This is a direct assault to the Intel image, as Chromebook owners discover they don't need Intel inside.

As these Chromebooks without Intel hardware spread through schools, students are going to get used to them. It won't take long until the next generation of computer buyers forget about Intel. That should be a concern to the giant processor maker. 

Additional Chromebook coverage: 

Intel is a giant firm and the Chromebook is not going to steal all its business by any means. But like it does for Windows, removing the association of Intel with computers is going to have a lasting effect. The computer buyer of the future is not going to care if there is Intel inside.

The Chromebook is doing well in schools, and that means the next generation of PC buyers is getting exposed to them. While this means they are growing up without Windows, it also means they are not even thinking about Intel. That is a long-term threat to Intel and its near monopoly on processors for computers.

Topics: Mobility, Google, Intel, Laptops

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

81 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • AMD in as much trouble as Intel

    More importantly, what failed was not Windows RT. It was WinRT, the technology behind the failure of Windows RT, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1.1, ... and coming soon Windows Phone - which is barely on life support as it is.

    From all reports Windows 9 won't have a chance either, keeping most of the "Metro Badness" and just paving over it a little with a faux Start Menu and calling it good.

    Sorry Microsoft, fool me twice shame on me.
    dilettante
    • AMD is in much worse shape than intel

      AMD can't even compete in Windows anymore- they're just way too power hungry and only enterprise buys desktops anymore
      theoilman
    • Not sure what your measurement of success is

      Microsoft Windows might not be a desktop/laptop monopoly but that has nothing to do whether it is successful or not as a OS. Mac OS has never gone beyond 10% market share but you would be hard pressed not to label it a successful product.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • Market share by volume or by revenue?

        While Macs have never had more than 10% market share by volume, they do have more than 30% revenue share. Something that makes all other hardware manufacturers jealous.
        GoForTheBest
        • Mac Revenue

          When you have a monopoly on the market, you can set the price to whatever you like. Macs are three times the price of comparable PCs (hence the greater revenue) because there is no competition for those computers. If HP, Dell, etc. were allowed to make and sell Macs, market share and revenue would balance out quickly.
          jvitous
        • Actually

          the Apple revenue does not comes from the Mac, but from the IPhone. Even the IPad is showing signs of running out of steam and the IPod, well the IPhone is also affecting the IPod. Why carry two devices when the IPhones can do the job of both?
          jazzy2945
  • Sort of like Google+

    Sort of like how Google+ was this big threat to Facebook?
    Buster Friendly
    • Department of Paper Tigers is Closed

      Only in bloggers minds; Google never made any such prediction. Nor did anyone with a brain.
      Heenan73
    • Agreed. Only the Google fanbios (you know who you are) will disagree

      Chromebooks are hardly threating anybody, long term or what, especially not Intel.

      This assumption is based on Intel standing still. Ultimately I think Intel is the long term threat to Chromebooks.
      William.Farrel
      • Google and Intel are Partner Corporations

        Google and Intel are Partner Corporations, Intel is not a threat to Chrome OS nor is it a threat to Android either. Intel has been putting in a massive amount of work building a low power design and Android x86 is of course maintaining an Intel Compatible Android build.

        Google and Intel are both Linux Foundation Supporters and FLOSS Developers. Windows was essentially crippled to Intel but Intel has never been crippled to only Windows. Intel hardware not only works with different GNU/Linux Distros: Debian, Red Hat, Google Chrome OS/Android but it also works well on BSD and of course Intel's own sponsored Linux distributions it worked to help create MeGoo and Tizen.

        Simply speaking it is Intel and the hardware manufacturers that are pushing Microsoft into a hard corner as all hardware manufacturers that are worth purchasing from are all building FLOSS Drivers/Firmware for Linux and integrating their support directly in the Kernel for immediate full functionality.

        Many hardware manufacturers have had and offered their own GNU/Linux Speciality Distributions: Intel, HP, ASUS, LG etc. It is only a matter of time before they start rolling more general purpose desktop OS's featuring KDE or GNOME and simply sell support for their own OS.
        tmbutterworth
      • Chrome OS

        I consider Chrome OS a more than suitable replacement to Windows, I would prefer openSUSE or Fedora to it most of the time but there's currently no beating a Chromebook when out and about for quick Internet access from a real notebook.

        When Google and ASUS team up to make a 11.6" Chrome Transformer then I will definitely be getting one and saying goodbye to my current Nexus 7 2013.

        I like most people have no need for Windows in my personal computer usage.

        Microsoft has always produced a third rate OS in my opinion, they have always lacked quality administrative tools. Enterprises essentially know this as the majority of their Windows Management Suites are Third Party Software Vendors. I would like to personally know when MS will finally fix the constant file fragmentation issues with NTFS and fix their registry to be "Self-Cleaning" Windows always has been designed to degrade in performance in order to drive new PC sales around every three years.
        tmbutterworth
  • Intel & Chromebooks

    Google and Intel hosted an event earlier this year where they announced several Chromebooks with "Intel Inside", which Intel promotes online: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/laptops/shop-chromebooks.html.

    Intel hasn't yet applied the full force of their marketing efforts to promote Chromebooks. I'd expect their promotional efforts to increase, as the size of the Chromebook market increases.
    andy@...
    • promotion goes a long way

      and intel has been found guilty of anti-competitive practices before ;)
      theoilman
    • that is what I am afraid of

      google is promoting intel too much. IMO, they should adopt ARM based platform ( or anything else that pops up) - all alternatives to intel are necessarily superior.

      intel is like m$- monopoly handed on a platter and they fought tooth and nail to maintain it. Change the paradigm and they are unable to compete- X64, itanium (stolen digital), freescale (stolen ARM) and the list goes on.
      GrabBoyd
  • Um, no. Talk about

    Chrome books and the conversation quickly turns to, "why in the world would I buy a laptop to run a browser?"
    baggins_z
    • that's priceless

      just priceless. and i'm sure you have no idea why.
      oneleft
      • Feel free to enlighten us

        as to what we are all clueless about.
        baggins_z
        • Gates didn't get the web at first. Fortunately for MS he finally did.

          It is not all that hard to figure out unless you just don't want to.
          MeMyselfAndI_z
          • Translation: I don't have a clue

            what the **** I'm talking about, but I'll utter vague, superior-sounding generalities so I can pretend to be smarter than you are.
            baggins_z
          • In other words, just ridicule MS

            when you can't answer the question.

            Got it.
            William.Farrel