Chromebooks will not move into business if they cannot be bought

When it comes to Chromebooks, there are those available in the United States, and then there are those for the rest of the world.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

If you were to look at the specs of a number of Chromebook configurations available, it's not too hard to imagine a situation where a business might choose to look into an alternative to Microsoft and Apple.

To be sure, this deployment would likely be a trial and extremely niche, as a switch of operating systems should never be entered into lightly, but change has to start somewhere.

For the same reason that you may refer a family member to a Chromebook -- a set and forget approach to security, and OS updates for users who do little more than email and web browsing -- a corporate sysadmin might decide to choose the device. In that instance, though, they are likely to want something with more grunt and future-proofing than a Celeron processor with 4GB of memory.

Should the sysadmin in question be situated in the United States, then it is a simple case of picking up some new devices through the usual channels, and deciding whether you would like a Core i5 chip and possibly double the memory. In other territories, the situation is vastly less clear.

In the case of Australia, Chromebook sellers are only too keen to sell a Celeron-based system, but good luck if you want more performance than that, or even know that they are available for purchase.

Over the past couple of weeks, enquiries to a range of vendors have been far from fruitful. Many will state that it is possible to purchase a Chromebook containing a Core i3 or i5 chip, but when nudged it is revealed that this is through channel partners, effectively leaving the public and those without relationships with those partners in the dark.

A check of vendor online stores in a range of geographies, though admittedly only those in English, appears to show a pattern of the US having the best machines, and everyone else only having devices primarily aimed at the education sector.

Doing a grey import may be an option for an individual, but for enterprises that want support services, it can be a non-starter.

It's a strange state of affairs when OEMs in Asia do not make a selection of their products available on their side of the Pacific, particularly when we are talking about the lower end of the market that has myriad configurations and models available otherwise.

With such a haphazard approach, it seems the business push for Chromebooks is not wholehearted, which seems to be the pattern of many projects from Google.

As Chromebooks are now able to take advantage of the number of Android apps and run most of them, the need for proper up-to-date hardware on Chrome OS can exist for certain workloads.

But it is all entirely theoretical in geographies where the idea of a Core-based system is a pipedream.

The gains that Chromebooks have made in the education sector cannot be built upon if it is nigh on impossible to find a device built on proper silicon with a sizeable amount of memory.

Until the artificial supply restrictions are overcome, the lower end of the laptop market is going to continue to be the sole domain of Microsoft outside of the US.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener

The Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. Since we run a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8:00am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

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