Yes, Microsoft should be worried about Chromebooks this holiday season

Microsoft's concern about competition from Chromebooks may become clear as shoppers look for gifts for the holidays.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor on
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.

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