Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular and with good reason as they offer up plenty of versatility for a low cost. Google’s Chrome OS powered laptops were just a small few not more than three years ago, but by the end of this year we’ll be seeing over three times that amount for options when consumers go to select the Chromebook that best fits their needs. Pair that with continuing decline in PC sales and Microsoft definitely has a reason to sweat Google’s fledgling computer operating system. Right now there is still some need for something that is Windows, Mac or Linux based, as there are just some systems and regulation standards that require those particular OS platforms. State organizations largely use Windows and older versions at that. Not to mention the larger compatibility for big title games which primarily support the Windows platform. As Chromebooks continue to grow though we could easily see things change, and for the main stream consumer who just needs a laptop to browse the web, maybe watch some videos and access their email or type up documents, it’s hard to pass up something that is completely connected to the services they most likely already use from Google, and that comes with a price that is probably cheaper than most comparable laptops.
One and Two
The first two reasons tie into Amazon. Chromebooks make up the first six laptops on Amazon’s Top Rated list. The first windows based laptop doesn’t pop up until #19, which says quite a lot. When it comes to the Best Seller list, seven out of the top 20 are Chromebooks with #2, and #3 being the Acer C720 and the Samsung Chromebook.
Reason number three brings us to education. With Google’s push into education we have seen plenty of schools begin to provide Chromebook solutions to students and teachers. According to Chromebook’s VP Caesar Sengupta, Chromebooks are in as many as 10,000 schools as part of the Google Apps for Education program, which was half that number totaling only 5,000 just last year in September. So not only are Chromebooks becoming more accepted by the general public, but more and more education systems are starting to adopt Chromebooks as well.
The fourth reason shouldn’t surprise anyone, but for those who were unaware, Google’s Chromebooks support Microsoft office files like documents and spreadsheets. Not only that, but you can view them while connected or not connected to the internet because of Google’s implementation of offline mode. You can even edit documents while offline and have those changes updated once you become connected again, making usage a real breeze.
We all know that Google is pretty quick with updates, and perhaps for some that is reason enough to choose a Chromebook over a laptop or computer with an alternative OS like Windows. Google updates the Chromebooks every six weeks, so if any new changes come up you won’t be left wanting for those types of improvements for months on end. Some of the older devices will likely begin to fall off the upgrade list in time, but Google will also likely continue to maintain that update time frame for supported devices.
Another reason why Microsoft should be worried about Chromebooks is their decreasing need to have an internet connection to use some of the best features. Docs and Drive already have offline mode compatibility, and just recently announced yesterday, Offline Mode for Google Play Movies will be coming to Chromebooks as well. That means soon you’ll be able to knock out a couple hours of work on that thesis, then take a breather and watch a movie or a few TV shows, all without internet.
Microsoft’s Google Now Competitor may be the newest kid on the block and sure it’s named after a character from one of the best selling video games on the Xbox platform, but it’s limited to use on Windows Phone and it isn’t even out yet, while Google Now will soon push past it’s mobile only limitation and cross over to Chromebooks in full. Some of the features are already starting to make their way there and are compatible through the Chrome browser like Google Now Cards and some functionality with the “Ok Google” command, but eventually Chromebooks will be able to respond to Google Now voice commands outside of Chrome, allowing more hands free functions.
Some Windows Laptop base designs are even be relaunched as Chromebook versions, which Lenovo and Intel are making pretty clear. Intel’s recently announced reference design Chromebook aimed at education is the same design that they used for a comparable Windows 8 reference design, and Lenovo built their newly announced YOGA Chromebook off of a similar model that they produced running Windows 8 a well.
Nine And Ten
Most Chromebooks also come with at least 100GB of free cloud storage via Google Drive, so files and data are safely backed up online. Traditional Windows based PC’s are conditioned to save stuff to the larger hard drive systems as opposed to the cloud, although you can back stuff up on the cloud whenever you wish through a transfer from the main hard drive. Than you have to factor in that most traditional computers also take longer to boot, (on average 30 seconds or more compared to the 10 seconds on a Chromebook) and most Chromebooks come in with a price lower than $350, many at a price of $250 or below. This of course doesn’t include the fast boot times for many Windows based ultrabooks, but those cost considerably more than a Chromebook as well.
These certainly aren’t things that Microsoft can’t overcome and compete with, but they definitely have a reason to be worried. Unless they start to make some changes to what they offer, Chromebooks are on track to easily overt take more of the marketshare and become even more popular, especially as more and more options make their way onto shelves giving consumers more options.