Google's Chromebook gains momentum: Just enough to annoy Microsoft

Google's Chromebook gains momentum: Just enough to annoy Microsoft

Summary: HP's move to join the Chrome OS army may mean just enough volume for Chromebooks and Google to be a thorn in Microsoft's side.


When Google launched its Chrome OS experiment it had all the makings of yet another hobby that wouldn't quite play out to be much of a threat to Microsoft and Apple's personal computing efforts. It might be time to rethink that theory.


And initially there was no reason to believe Chrome OS---and Chromebooks---would amount to much in late 2010. The first iterations of Chrome OS were raw and basically a browser. Chromebooks would appeal to a subset of the computing universe and not much else.

Simply put, the subset is swelling. Google now has Chromebooks in 2,000 schools and there are some signs the masses are checking out the devices. 

The Chromebook has recently pushed by Google's core Android partners---notably Samsung. But suddenly there's some volume coming Google's way. First, Asus noted that the Chromebook accounted to 5 percent to 10 percent of volume. And that volume came during the Windows 8 launch.

Now there's HP, which leaked specs of its Chromebook effort on Friday, and later launched the $330 laptop. In a PDF, HP noted:

The World’s first full-size Chromebook.

We gave it a 14-inch diagonal HD display so you can see and do everything comfortably. At less than an inch thin and starting at 3.96 lb (1.8 kg), it’s small enough to take anywhere. Sometimes only a face-to-face conversation will do. With the HP TrueVision HD Webcam,(12) you always come off looking your best. Even in low light.
The HP Pavilion Chromebook is packed with the ports you need, so you can be confident that connecting to displays and other devices will be hassle-free.

Why is HP pitching the Chromebook? It has no choice. HP plays the volume PC game, it's in a dogfight with Lenovo for the No. 1 PC maker crown and needs cheap computing to do battle in emerging markets. The Chromebook fits that bill.

More: HP's first Chromebook specs leaked | Are Android apps for Chromebooks on the way?

One thing is clear. If HP can get the Chromebook to 5 percent of shipments it's going to move the Chrome OS needle for Google.

For Google, the Chrome OS is all gravy. Use Chrome OS, you'll consume more Google services, which are monetized through ads primarily.

Anecdotally, there's also a bit of mojo for Chrome OS. Folks in my neighborhood, not exactly the tech elites, have been asking about Chromebooks. And they should the price is right. Ultimately, Chromebooks were a consideration, but the people who asked about them opted for inexpensive AMD-powered Windows 8 machines largely for Office. Next computing purchase may turn out different for Google's Chromebooks.

Bottom line: The Chromebook, Chrome OS and Google have just enough momentum to be a pain in Microsoft's rear end. Let's face it: Being a pain is probably all Google was trying to accomplish. Looks like the search giant is succeeding.

Topics: Hardware, Cloud, Enterprise Software, Google, PCs

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  • What does it say

    That Asus reported 5-10% of volume yet the Chrome browser usage has dropped three straight months? This according to a ZDNet article from last week.I hadn't used a browser other then IE since Netscape and was going to give Chrome a try based on ZD articles until I read the user comments and discovered many users having stability issues and the browser crashing frequently. Looks like its going to be Firefox to try.
    On a side note it seems funny an exec wouldn't know their numbers better then 5-10% of volume.
    • Numbers count US market (only one for Acer Chromebooks).

      Covered 3 month time span, and solid numbers you can get in quarterly reports. When you sell thousands of items in various resale channels, in different configurations, and for different customers, its OK to not know real numbers with 0.00x% accuracy :P

      5-10% mean 1 or 2 out of each 10 sold computers.

      And what Chrome browser usage stats have do do with Chromebook SALE stats?
      • Chrome browser usage down ...

        Chrome isn't actually down, at all, but there ya go - its growth has slowed - but all that tells you is that laptop sales have plummeted as people zoom over to tablets. And as Android tablets rise, who knows? Plus some of those who bought new windows devices are still working out how to escape the pre-fitted IE.

        Which is fine; but tablets have less functionality for work. A tablet is perfect for a day away, but a Chromebook will meet most peoples' needs for a week or more.
        • Can't find a Samsung Chromebook!

          The issue may be supply related. My company has tried to get Samsung Chromebooks for a while. Our order is on back-order until April 4th (probably will be pushed back again for the 5th time). We checked with multiple suppliers and chains and no one has any of the Samsung Chromebooks. The only ones available right now are Acers. It seems obvious that the demand has exceeded the supply, so it is no wonder HP is jumping in.
          Thomas Kolakowski
          • RE: Can't find a Samsung Chromebook

            You might need to check out the Chrome for Business option. Samsung is not the only option there. Apparently Lenovo has a Chromebook as well that is only available through business and education market channels. Hope that helps! :)
            Richard Estes
          • What kind of volume are you ordering in?

            Amazon has Samsung Chromebooks in stock, but perhaps your company's order is too big to easily fulfill?
      • statistics

        Never took statistics, but 5-10% would appear to me to be 1 or 2 out of "20" sold computers.
        • You better check that...

          10% is 1 in 10... 5% is 1 in 20... of course, 2 in 20 is the same as 1 in 10...

          Mark Twain once said there's three types of lies: "Lies, damn lies and statistics"... although as with all MT quotes there 1 in 10 chance there are his...
    • Chrome Browser

      My prefered browser is Chrome not IE. It seems to be faster than IE and very streamlined. I use Win 7 and it has never, ever, crashed. Its very stable. The feature I like the most is that you can type in text in the address area and it will do a google search or you simply type in the URL minus the 'www.' and it knows you want the web site. It really is quite nice.

      The strange thing is that every so often a web page refuses to render and I copy and past the URL in IE and it works just fine. Its rare but it does happen. Same with IE. Every once in a while I copy the URL from IE to Chrome and it works fine in Chrome where it did not in IE. Thus, you need both browsers but I use Chrome as my default browser. Its secure, fast and the integrated address/search functionality is very useful.
      • Only Chrome issues I have are Flash or Shockwave related.

        I do have some Chrome crashes, but they all are related to Flash or Shockwave. As I stopped using Firefox and only use IE for Oracle, I am not sure if those issues are effecting other browsers as well.
        Thomas Kolakowski
        • I believe...

          you are right about that.
        • On pretty much every browser ...

          .... most issues are related to Flash.

          But with Chrome .... the fact that it SUCKS at displaying most websites right (while everybody else can) is more annoying. And that is ignoring the build-in spyware.
      • Chrome Browser

        " it has never, ever, crashed. Its very stable. The feature I like the most is that you can type in text in the address area and it will do a google search or you simply type in the URL minus the 'www.' and it knows you want the web site. It really is quite nice."

        ryork272- you sound like you're going to drool over your browser! if you're using Windows 7 then you have ie9 but apparently aren't even aware that ie9 does exactly the same things and is as "streamlined" as the browser you prefer and, unlike chrome, it doesn't track your every move on the internet for google to sell that info to advertisers. And ie9 also "never crashes" any more so than does chrome. It's amazing you don't even know what ie9 does, yet prefer chrome because it does the things that ie9 does plus ie9 is compliant with more sites. is10 is even more stable, does everything ie9 does plus has built-in spellcheck.
        Thus I DON'T need 2 browsers and I can avoid being tracked and signed into every site owned by google, which is what happens when you sign into gmail, youtube, use google search- I'd prefer a search engine and browser by a company that DOESN'T search the internet for every possible record on me, including my phone number. place of employment, ad nauseum- check google's TOS if you don't believe that's true...
        • Browser Wars!

          Wow, talk about drooling over browsers :) Everyone has their favorite and nobody can claim one is better than the other, nobody. That is why there are 3-4 "major" browsers around. Each has strength and weaknesses. Personally, I use FF for some things, Chrome for most, and IE on occasion. Why? Can't really say, that's just the way I have things set up. No the real question is whether its better to get Win7, Win8, or a MAC :) Oh please..... the obvious answer is Win 7 ;)
        • IE has added www. since 7

          All you need to do is type the website - like zdnet - and press Ctrl+enter and IE will wrap the word with Chrome and FireFox are being shunned in the corporate world due to their rapid fire 'updates'. Major SSLVPN vendors are refusing to support them as well as they can't complete testing before the next release. Only time I have seen issues with IE is from poorly written websites.
    • Chorme

      I use it all day long on PCs, and HP Windows Netbook, and even on an iPad mini. No problems. Of course I use it for Gmail and such. I don't try to use it for autocad.
      • Well Actually Chromebooks/Chromeboxes do run AutoCAD.

        My Chromebox runs it reasonably well actually although I would get a high end workstation if you are going to use it heavily.

        Lots of other AutoDesk Goodies as well.
        • Although....

          The latter 123D apps require a 2.5GHz processor - currently not supported on Chromebooks.
    • Why didn't you give a try ?

      Why didn't you give a try and judge it by yourself. I didn't experience crashes with Chrome and I don't understand how people could say Chrome crashes. By design, each tab is a process, if a process crashes, Chrome will not crash unless the Chrome kernel crashes which I personally never experienced. I am using Chrome on Windows XP , and it is by far the best browser for XP, it is fast and stable unless you use its beta version. This said, Chrome on Chromebook is more than the Chrome browser on top of Windows, there are additional flags that you can only enable on Chromebook.
    • Don't worry about what people say

      For a short time, Chrome seemed really unstable and crashed a lot, but Google seems to have worked whatever the issue was out. It has been quite some time (months) since I've seen chrome crash, and I am a heavy user of Flash, WebGL, and the internet in general. I spend several hours everyday using chrome. I'd suggest you give it a try. Once you get used to keyword searching (I've set up chrome so that typing "w search term" in the address bar searches Wikipedia for search term. I've also got the keyword "amazon" for searching Amazon, "=" for Wolfram Alpha, "hulu" for Hulu, and several others), you can never go back to IE. Chrome is fast, stable, and full of great features. Firefox is great, too, though.
      Patrick Aupperle