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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The only things that can stop the Chromebook are you and Google | News | TechRadar

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The only things that can stop the Chromebook are you and Google
OPINION It's not the product, it's the perception

By Chris Phin  November 30th 2014

The only things that can stop the Chromebook are you and Google
The Chromebook are still waiting for the world to notice them
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For a long time, Chromebooks seemed like they would fizzle, and for just the reasons you might expect. People called them under-powered, said they didn't run the software they depended on, and that there was just no compelling reason to buy one over a cheap Windows or Linux laptop. For a while, we got one Chromebook at a time, made by different manufacturers - not unlike how Google's Nexus brand is applied to smartphones and tablets made by a succession of manufacturers.
But little by little, the Chromebook has gained momentum and diversified, and now ABI Research forecasts that a little over four million Chromebooks will be sold this year (compared to 300m conventional laptops). Four against 300 doesn't sound like much, but this would probably be a doubling of Chromebook sales over the previous year - while conventional laptop sales are predicted to fall from 316m according to ABI.
For the most part, Chromebooks seem to be being bought by the education market, and they're doing great things there. When even one of the smartest and strongest advocates for the iPad in education, Fraser Speirs, records an episode of his podcast called The Case for Chromebooks, you should be thinking at least that there's potential here.
The question still gets asked, though: what will it take for the Chromebook to go mainstream? It's a question that assumes Google has to change the Chromebook to make it attractive to the mass market, and I think that's the wrong perspective. I think the market has to change.
It's not them, it's you

A Chromebook is already a good option for the mass market. For home users, it's simple, reliable, robust and likely not as susceptible to viruses as a Windows machine. If most of us actually stop to think about it, the majority of what we use a computer for these days can already be done in a browser window. That's in part because of how much time we spend on websites (such as Facebook and Twitter), and in part because web versions of apps such as Word are finally rich and responsive enough to be usable.
What's more, many of those jobs that we currently don't do in a browser could be done in a browser with minimal disruption if we wanted to. Besides, some interesting things are happening such as the streaming version of Photoshop which brings the full, complete power of Photoshop to a Chromebook while doing all the heavy lifting on a server somewhere. It's trickier in some businesses, but for others - especially sole traders and SMBs who might be well served by or even already be using Google Apps for Work - a Chromebook could be not just a usable trade-off but actually the best tool for the job.
Still, you might say, why should I buy a Chromebook to do these things when I can just install Chrome on my PC or Mac and not have the same compromises? Well, it's true you won't have the same compromises, but you will have compromises. The system is more complex and so liable to failure, it's a bigger target for malware. And of course there's price: for the most part, Chromebooks just are cheap."