Google now pitching Chromebook laptops to consumers. Will they want them?

Google now pitching Chromebook laptops to consumers. Will they want them?

Summary: After striking out with the corporate market, Google is now appealing to the general public to buy Chromebooks running its Chrome OS and using cloud-based services instead of a tablet PC.

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TOPICS: Laptops, Google
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Along with a new version of the Chromebook, manufactured and sold by Samsung for just $249 (and reviewed here by our own Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols), a new approach to marketing the laptop is underway. According to the New York Times, Google is now attempting to sell the notebook to consumers, after emphasizing enterprise use in its earlier incarnation.

To many users, the Chromebook is a bit of a tough sell. It runs Google's Chrome OS, not the Windows or Mac OS most people are familiar with. In addition, it emphasizes cloud services over running apps from and saving files to the laptop's hard drive. At least Chromebook no longer requires an active Internet connection in order to be useful.

Not surprisingly, the cautious corporate world didn't exactly flock to Chromebooks as the answer to their mobility prayers. So now Google is looking toward the mass market, running a new series of TV ads to appeal to families with the pitch line "for everyone".  But will the Chromebook have any better luck with consumers than it has had with enterprises?

The problem, of course, is that the Chromebook is a laptop competing in a tablet world. On the one hand, Microsoft is hoping consumers want a little more functionality with its new Surface RT tablet, which features an optional case with built-in keyboard. The Chromebook offers all of that functionality, for far less money and with a more conventional keyboard. On the other hand, a small, cheap, "connected" laptop -- i.e., a 2012 version of the netbook -- now seems a little bit quaint when more and more attractive tablets are arriving in an array of sizes. Many of those family tasks for which the Chromebook is being touted are now the purview of the iPad, Kindle Fire, and now maybe even the Surface.

While there is a case to be made for the Chromebook as a laptop that can provide access to cloud services like Microsoft Office Web Apps for cheaper than an iPad Mini, it's a hard one to make to families who prefer to consume online entertainment through a tablet instead of a notebook form factor.

Do you think Google will have any success marketing the Chromebook to consumers? Or have tablets already beaten it to the punch? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section below.  

Topics: Laptops, Google

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Talkback

41 comments
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  • It will gain some market, but not much

    This will be ideal for people working predominantly in Google ecosystem and the browser. Unfortunately in the already crowded world with PC's, Tablets it has tough path.

    Just as some bloggers whine that Windows RT cannot run legacy applications, similarly this device runs nothing but Chrome applications and web sites. Even SJVN may not be using it after praising and writing about it, what to say about normal users.
    ninjacut
    • Hardly anyone in their right mind would want it

      Even a Ubuntu netbook or today's Nexus 10 tablet offers far better UX vs price ratio. It does not justify spending 200$ on a browser.
      LBiege
      • You need to get out more.

        Clueless about the real world
        D.T.Long
      • Umm you are quite wrong

        Is not jus a browser.. something we have to keep in mind is that this laptop is not for everyone, its for a specific market of people that spend most of the time on the internet. I believe that there's a big chunk of market who use the pc while online or on the internet. So this is beautiful piece of technology for a half of the price of an Ipad or some other tablets and devices... You go Google.
        Jeloremo
        • You are making the mistake that ignorants make

          You call this a "laptop". It is NOT.

          It is a net-appliance. It has less usability than an under-powered crapware netbook.
          wackoae
          • Er...

            1. Because of that, you have lass usability than a crapware netbook
            2. The reason it's 'crapware' is because it has no storage (cloud storage, duh), made of plastic, doesn't have an Intel processor (no fan, so it's silent), and is too futuristic for this time. Google must have a time machine. *yells at google* WHERE IS YOUR TIME MACHINE???
            Case closed.
            blagonet
          • Storage..

            The Acer version has 320gb of storage in addition to the cloud storage
            drew_peacock_
        • You said it..

          If, as you say, its not for everyone... why is their strapline... For everyone?

          10% of a machine for 10% of the market. How the heck did they pitch this one to the board???
          Cleeveboy 99
    • Chromebook

      Yes, people will buy them. Now, think -- how much 'offline' work do most people do? In most, if not all, cases people's computers are always connected to the internet. And now think again, how much of your work requires the internet? Ok. So you answered your own question - yes people will find use for the chromebook. It's lightweight, it only takes second to boot and seconds to get on the web. Great battery life. I can see myself tossing this into my briefcase, backpack, etc.
      joelalex
  • The new Chromebooks will do well

    I have been looking after the family PCs for a LONG time. My wife and daughter do virtually all their "computing" on the web. They do NOT need Windows nor OSX, and tablets are just tooA large percentage of users prefer a keyboard for letters and e-mails.
    D.T.Long
    • Stupid site

      I tried to complete a mis-post, but got this message:

      "Your comment contains profanities and will not appear on the site until it has been checked by a moderator."

      There were NO profanities, not even close.

      Stupid
      D.T.Long
      • So the girls DONT need better hardware and software

        Try giving them a Surface and see how your pronouncements go down then ;-) All the benefits of a real OS, real Office and both a keyboard and tablet.

        I bet you don't let your family read your posts ;-)
        Tony_McS
      • same here

        I got the same message to a comment I made a few days ago. No profanity in the comment and yet it never got posted.
        krossbow
    • still saying others behavior like kids

      look at yourself, silly
      FADS_z
    • Why don't you

      get a notebook with Ubuntu installed?
      You can install Chrome if that fancy you.
      live.tiles
    • this is why they will be successful

      while 'it's only a browser' is a problem to some, to most non-computer techies, its the greatest feature. no installing updates, no blue screens, no viruses, no dealing with backing up files, no defragging or upgrading hardware, its just the internet. stupid simple to get up and browsing, long battery life, no headaches.
      portermiked
  • Google now pitching Chromebook laptops to consumers. Will they want them?

    No. Despite what Google thinks people don't want to run everything in the cloud or on the web. There will come a time when they need that one application to run and the chromebook won't fill that need. Can't wait to see the return rate of these.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Ignorant shill rubbish as usual

      A lot of users never need "that one application". Hence Chromebooks may be their best solution.

      Chrome will get more and more apps/functionality and better and better off-line capabilities, hence meeting more and more users' needs.

      I guess you do not recall Windows 1, 2 and even 3. Not much good, were they? 3.1 was the first useful Windows version. Google is doing just fine with the Chromebooks. They will sell by the millions and probably take a lot of sales from Windows RT whatever-they-are.
      D.T.Long
      • Some of us just find Google irrelevant

        or we just can't stand the irony of an advertising company saying do no evil ;-)

        Yes I used to use Google until Bing arrived and gmail as my spam mail storage before I switched to Hotmail, but I really don't need them anymore and frankly their software products still have a 1990's look and feel. I've always used IE, so no need for Chrome either.

        Woudl I buy or recommend a cheap laptop with only access to obsolete web software chained to the clunky Google eco system - no.

        But hey D.T., you stick with that advertising company that rehashes a 1990 OS, I'll go for a software development company that provides a modern OS.

        The half-life of Chromebooks is now measured in months.
        Tony_McS
        • Microsoft fanboy?

          Didn't know your type even existed. I think you need to check net worth of companies before you try and say a company isn't relevant within a market.
          CG Nobles