Yes, Microsoft should be worried about Chromebooks this holiday season

Yes, Microsoft should be worried about Chromebooks this holiday season

Summary: Microsoft's concern about competition from Chromebooks may become clear as shoppers look for gifts for the holidays.

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Chromebook
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Microsoft's recent ads taking on the Chromebook made some pundits covering technology wonder if the company was worried about the competition from Google. A few articles appeared online that pointed out that Chromebook sales were not high enough for Microsoft to be worred about the lowly Chromebook. 

I think Microsoft was looking ahead to the holiday shopping season, and they have good reason to be concerned about the competiton they will see from Chromebooks. The fact is, Chromebooks are a great gift idea that shoppers may snap up in big numbers.

Gift shoppers won't be worried if the recipient would rather have a Windows or a Mac laptop.

Google has been running ads in the US for a while that push the Chromebook on regular consumers. These ads make it clear that Chromebooks are simple and good bargains. No hardware spec comparison is necessary with Chromebooks, for all intents and purposes they are all the same.

Price is the big reason gift givers will give Chromebooks in numbers this holiday season. With the exception of Google's expensive Pixel Chromebook, all other models available to shoppers are under $300. Heck, most are under $250, with some just under $200. That price point makes Chromebooks perfect gifts for family and friends. 

Chromebooks are sleek and thin laptops from top companies they recognize, and that will attract gift givers wanting to give a nice present without breaking the bank. Gift shoppers won't be worried if the recipient would rather have a Windows or a Mac laptop. They'll know their family member or friend can use it to get online, and that everyone does that. That will be enough to make shoppers feel comfortable about giving the Chromebook this holiday season. The fact Chromebooks require no maintenance will seal the deal.

Google's recent ads have raised awareness about the Chromebook. Whenever I take one out in public I'm usually asked if I'm using a "Google laptop" or a "Chrome laptop". I also now see them in public, so folks know what they are — simple laptops that run Chrome.

I predict we'll see a healthy spike in Chromebook sales over the holidays, and the bulk of them will be purchased as gifts. Chromebooks are not expensive, and they are attractive laptops that will get buyers' attention when they see them in the stores. 

This is likely why Microsoft took on Chromebooks in its ad campaign. Like me, they expect the Chromebook to be a popular gift item this holiday season. And they know that a lot of the recipients of a shiny new Chromebook will realize how good they are once they start using them. That won't help the folks in Redmond, especially with PC sales already slipping.

Additional Chromebook coverage: 

Topics: Mobility, Google, Laptops, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface

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112 comments
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  • I dont think so

    Win 8.1 tablets have come way down in price, and the designs are becoming very appealing. Chrome Book is too limiting, too tied to Google services, and becoming less value as Win 8.1 products come down in price. Just buy a Win 8.1 tablet and install Chrome Browser - done.
    Sean Foley
    • But Win8 is so awful

      I just wouldn't get a Win8 laptop or tablet
      FrankInKy
      • Would you get any Windows device?

        I for one use Windows 8.1 on a laptop and have a Windows 8 phone.

        Marvelous, simply marvelous OS. Used to have an iPhone, really liked it, but now Im on WP8 it would be brutally hard to even thinking about going back.

        All the anti Windows 8 hype is mostly just that.
        Cayble
    • as oppossed

      to being tied to ms services? you find that better?
      ya know how you can use google services on windows? yeah, funny thing. you can use outlook, skydrive, office365 on a chromebook.
      oneleft
      • Unless you use the outlook

        desktop client, can't use that.
        Sam Wagner
    • No it is not

      The Acer C720 which cost $199 outperforms the ASUS T100 which cost much more. In fact, it 3.5 times faster, not to mention virus and maintenance free. CB are not only good, they are very good for most of people. Why pay more just to have a bloated OS in order to use legacy applications.
      oldman60
      • It's not a tablet.

        Sometimes, it's better to spend the extra money and get an arguably better product.

        It doesn't matter if it's 3.5 times faster (it isn't, by the way), that power is wasted on an operating system incapable of using it well.

        While RT lacks the apps that Android and iOS have, Chrome OS has even less of them.

        Compared to full Windows 8, that thing's a deserted planet.
        ForeverCookie
        • Why is it not capable of using it?

          It means the Asus Chromebook 720 can run web apps or packaged apps a lot faster than the ASUS T100 can run Windows apps. Given that Windows imposes an additional overhead on the system, and they both have 2GB RAM, the ACER 720 will be even faster comparatively than the specifications suggest.
          Mah
    • While I agree with the idea that tablets do more

      I certainly don't agree with the idea that a Windows tablet is the answer for someone who thought a Chromebook might do it. Someone going for a Chromebook was after simplicity. They'll get too much of it with a Chromebook, but not enough of it with Windows 8.1. Windows is a full PC operating system, in all its disk eating, driver laden glory.

      That sort of user - the one craving simplicity and freedom from the PC headaches of yore - is best served with an Android tablet or iPad.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Or....

        Or, a Win 8.1RT device!
        crystalsoldier
      • Tablets do more?!?

        That's true only if you spend more money and buy a keyboard accessory. Even then, tablet operating systems are still more complex and relatively bloated compared to a browser-based operating system.
        CHIP72
      • Really?

        If you keep your tablet turned on and just use sleep mode etc. (what most tablet users do) and just use chrome / chrome apps, I doubt you will see any performance difference between the two.

        The only time you would see a slow in speed is during boot (how often would you actually do that with an always on device?) and when using non-chrome apps (slow performance on windows vs. nonexistent performance on chrome).

        I'm not gonna tell people to buy a dumbed down device based on it saving 10 seconds a month at reboot during the monthly update cycle. Only a fool would.

        People say windows tablets are slow. Slow at what? They run all the apps that the chrome book does at exactly the same speed except reboot (Chrome browser and apps). And, you can't really compare anything outside of that because chrome doesn't run anything else.
        mrefuman
        • being the home tech support person

          I can tell you it would save me at least two hours a month. You are constantly having to fiddle with windows as settings seem to randomly change - microphone drivers mysteriously stop working dealing windows updates which seems to force the computer shut when I am in the middle of something. It is a horrible waste when all anyone in the family does is browse the web on the device. And that is all 90% of folks do with a computer - browse the web.
          marque2
          • That's weird.

            None of my setting change unless I change them or give another service permissions to.
            Sam Wagner
          • He did qualify his remark.....

            .....by saying "Being a home tech support person".
            djmik
    • The real use of Chromebook is in Motel rooms and lobbies.

      Hotels get a lot of traffic. They could simply put a chromebook per room and few in the lobbies, restaurants. People use these systems even if they don't have to, human tendency. Google and Hotel silently can record what the guests are doing. Advantage, Google can throw more ads and Hotels can silently tap into the potential of extra revenue from Google.
      Ram U
      • Great Idea

        I would prefer Windows over this but one thing Windows does not do well is Kiosk. The simplicity of Chromebook would be perfectly suited for this role and many other similar public or shared situations.
        djmik
    • I agree. I have wondered, though

      If the return rates for Chromebooks are in line with Linux Netbooks in the past, where people found they did not work with their printers, scanners, ect, and returned them?
      William.Farrel
      • Very low return rate for Chromebooks.

        Windows 8 tablets/hybrids - well the $ 1 billion write off for unsold stock speaks for itself.
        Mah
  • what is wrong with Wikipedia?

    Your vision of the wiki is as outdated as your vision of computing. If it isn't a politically charged subject like Global Warming - wiki is actually a very good resource.
    marque2