Chromebooks have been all the rage over the last few years powered by the ChromeOS (operating system) put out by Google. ChromeOS is primary Linux based and is probably the most successful Linux desktop/laptop computer we’ve seen to date. An article posted recently by The Verge stated, “Google’s low-cost Chromebooks outsold Apple’s range of Macs for the first time in the US recently.”
After reading this article the question I asked is why?
To start with Apple has been very lax on their computer line refresh recently Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in a post on an Apple employee discussion board, Cook stated ““Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops,” adding that “If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.” The post, which was verified and reported on by TechCrunch got me thinking even more about why Apple got outsold to me I could think of three main reasons.
While Apples latest MacBook Pro laptop has been getting hit with mixed reviews there are other reasons for the Chromebooks success. One being the low price point of under 300 dollars has been a huge driving point for the product. The product itself is very cheap because the ChromeOS is cloud based so little hardware is needed to run the computer making the price point low. Another reason for a low price point is Google is not a hardware company for the most part. Apple’s main business is selling hardware Google’s is not I am sure they make a little money on the sale but their main purpose is to sell ad space to companies and sell services to you the consumer like Google Drive Space, Movies, Music, Books, Apps and much more.
For the most part, Chromebooks are about the safest thing you can use on the web right now hands down. Chromebooks have a long history of not getting viruses because again the ChromeOS is very lightweight and very little is done on the laptop itself because everything is cloud based. Since the Chromebook is cloud-based all apps have to come from the trusted Google Chrome web store which adds another level of security. When it comes to local passwords there are none as you log in with your Gmail username and password that you should not give out to anyone. The last part that not only saves money but adds a level of security is the whip feature on Chromebooks. If for some reason you want to dispose of the device or for some reason would get a virus it under 5 minutes you could whip the device and bring it back to the factory state like you just bought it from the store. This is big cost savings not having to call the repairman, but from a security standpoint, your local data could not be stolen.
Another huge selling point for the Chromebook is the areas of adoption in education. Google has added features like Google Classrooms and offered schools Google G suite free of charge which was a huge selling point to schools especially after being hit hard by the recession in 2009. In the education sector, Chromebooks makeup over 50% of that market, more than all other OS’s combined.
Kids use the products in school and then ask for one from their parents at home, a great marking technique used by Microsoft and Apple during the computer boom in the 80s and 90s. There are some businesses that run Chromebooks but there are a few scenarios where I have seen them used regularly in a corporate environment. Companies have deployed them to users that do primarily all web based work and require very little software installed to do their work, jobs like web developers, internet marketing consultants, and customer server representatives.
Chromebooks are great laptops if you are going to buy one I recommend going with one from a name brand company like Lenovo, Acer, HP or Dell. If you would feel more comfortable you can buy Chromebooks directly from Google off their Chromebook store.
I think the Chromebook will continue to dominate the education market just on cost alone despite the great features Google offers to schools. I think the next big adoption point will be the home and consumer market considering Google is putting a lot of resources towards that goal. I think businesses customers will take time for the Chromebook to get a foothold in that market. Business needs are different than schools and home, the product may not be the right fit for them but we will have to see what other features Google will add to the GSuite and ChromeOS to see what happens in that market.