Who is the audience for a Google Chromebook?

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Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

The Google Chromebook is just the web. It doesn’t run Windows and it doesn’t have a bunch of preloaded software. It defies everything we’re used to when we think about traditional PCs. The Chromebook just runs Google Chrome in addition to all the services and apps Google is associated with. Given the lack of power and almost complete dependence on the web, who could best benefit from a Google Chromebook?

A Windows Competitor at Retail?

Google is clearly trying to take on the Windows dominated PC market with Chromebooks. However, we have to remember that Chromebooks are going to be sold to everyday consumers at Best Buy and Amazon. Regardless of whether we tech types consider the concept of cloud computing as a viable selling point, ordinary people won’t feel that way.

For $429, the Wi-Fi Samsung Chromebook can be yours. Stop for a moment and consider how an average person looking for a computer at Best Buy will evaluate this situation. On the left, they see a standard PC built by the likes of Toshiba, HP or Gateway. For between $330-$429, this customer can get a regular laptop with 3GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, a HDMI output, DVD burner and more processing power than the average person needs.

On the right, they see a Samsung Chromebook. Here’s how a typical conversation between a customer and a Best Buy sales associate can go down.

“What does this do,” asks the customer to the sales associate.
“Well the Samsung Chromebook can go on the internet,” replies the sales associate.
“Can it burn DVDs?”
“No it can’t.”
“Can it install software from all over the web?”
“No it can’t.”
“Can it play games I purchased?”
“No it can’t.”
“So for the same price or more, I’m getting less than half the functionality of a normal PC?”
“Basically, yes.”

A Chromebook is easy to use. I’m sure someone like my mother can operate a Chromebook more easily than a Windows laptop. However, the average consumer isn’t as interested in the concept of cloud computing. They aren’t going to be sold on the web as a platform. They want value for their hard earned money. They want the strongest piece of machinery they can afford and frankly, they deserve it. A Chromebook is not for them.

A Tablet Competitor?

I understand the argument that comparing a Chromebook to a tablet is missing the point. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a point worth considering. If you take away the keyboard, the Google Chromebook becomes very similar to a tablet. The Chrome Web Store takes the place of a typical app store and web browsing is still a huge part of the deal. One of the biggest differences is the very thing I just took away – the keyboard. Even tablets can sync up with a Bluetooth keyboard. Yes the user interface of tablets are vastly different than a Chromebook and the operating systems are completely different, but the core functionality (and hardware specs) are still similar.

The choice between a tablet such as the $400 Eee Pad Transformer and a $429 Samsung Chromebook is a toss up. Purchasing the laptop dock for the Transformer will make it more expensive than the Chromebook, but you may not want another laptop. From a price and spec standpoint, there is no clear winner here.

For Education and Enterprise?

Here’s where I think Chromebooks can shine. For $20 a month per user, schools can supply every student with a Chromebook. Alternatively for $28 a month per user, businesses can supply their workforce with Chromebooks. A computer that is being used primarily for work normally doesn’t require all the software and raw power a typical Windows laptop or Macbook supplies. In fact, I don’t think most people would want a powerhouse computer when they’re just doing simple tasks. Chromebooks are perfect for this purpose. Another advantage is the fact that all things are saved to the cloud. It makes working together and sharing documents a lot easier for businesses. These are the sectors in which Chromebooks can find success. It has the potential to disrupt the market that has been dominated by Windows for years.

Site [Google Chromebook]

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