Google Chromebooks from Samsung, Acer Will Fail: 10 Reasons Why

Discussion in 'The Water Cooler' started by reghakr, May 13, 2011.

  1. reghakr

    reghakr Excellent Member

    Jan 26, 2009
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    News Analysis: The new Chromebook notebooks introduced by Samsung and Acer with considerable fanfare at the Google I/O conference the week of May 9 will be available for order on June 15. But their chances of survival just aren’t all that great.

    At its I/O Conference this week, Google announced that after a long wait, computers running Chrome operating system will be available to customers in June. The computers, dubbed Chromebooks, will be offered by Samsung and Acer. The Samsung option comes with a 12.1-inch display and the Intel Atom dual-core processor. Acer’s option boasts an 11.6-inch HD display and the Intel Atom dual-core processor. Both devices offer WiFi and the option for 3G connectivity.

    In essence, these Chromebooks, at least for now, are netbooks.

    But now that Google has made its intention known, speculation abounds over whether Chromebooks will actually perform well at retail. On one hand, the devices are offering a new and unique operating system that consumers might get excited about. On the other hand, they’re competing against tablets, which put them at an immediate disadvantage. Combine that issue with all the others that go along with Google’s underdog Chrome OS, and it quickly becomes clear that they will likely fail.

    Google, Samsung, and Acer might not like to hear it, but at least for now, it doesn’t look like the Chromebooks will have much success in the market.

    Read on to find out why:

    1. The market has moved on to tablets

    As noted, Chromebooks are basically just netbooks with a different operating system. Unfortunately for Google and its vendor partners, netbook sales are on the steep decline. The reason for that is simple: he market has moved on to tablets, like Apple’s iPad. Tablets deliver the same level of mobility and pricing is similar. Even better, they offer unique functionality. This year, more than 50 million tablets are expected to hit store shelves, making them a force to be reckoned with in the mobile space. That alone spells trouble for Google and its vendor partners.

    2. Chrome OS is an unknown

    If one combines the fact that netbooks are dying out with the general lack of buyer knowledge with what Chrome OS is and how it works, it’s apparent that these Chromebooks may find it tough going in the market. Google’s operating system might be a great idea to some who can’t wait for cloud-based operating systems to become the norm. But right now, they aren’t. Even worse for vendors, most consumers are more focused on mobile operating systems. Chromebooks might simply be ahead of their time.

    3. Are they really necessary?

    When Microsoft first launched Windows, it was entering a young PC market that was eager to try out new ideas and operating systems. But Google doesn’t have that advantage. The company’s operating system is entering a market where consumers need to be convinced they need to learn another operating system, cloud-based or otherwise. Customers are currently content with a laptop or desktop and a tablet. It’s highly unlikely that they will want to add another device and operating system into that mix. Chrome OS, and thus Chromebooks, are a luxury, not a necessity. And that could eventually bring those devices down.

    4. The 3G options are expensive

    Chromebooks will ship with the ability for users to connect to 3G networks and consume up to 100MB of data for free. However, after that limit is met, the data costs start to skyrocket. A single-day pass will cost $9.99 from Verizon. The addition of 1GB, 3GB and 5GB of data will cost customers $20, $35 and $50 per month, respectively. Over a 12-month period, that starts to add up. Chromebooks’ reliance on the Web could be a significant issue for their users

    5. It’s a developer conundrum

    Google will offer customers the ability to add applications to their Chromebooks through the search giant’s Chrome Web Store. However, Google will need to work doubly hard to ensure developers are willing to support its platform. Right now, the most attractive market for application development is in Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market. And with the addition of the Mac App Store to Mac OS X, and the rumored inclusion of an applications marketplace in Windows 8, Google’s Chrome store might soon be left behind. Granted, with Chrome OS the most valuable “applications” are supposed to be Websites, not discrete applications. But make no mistake that an application marketplace will be integral to the platform’s success.

    6. Consumers will expect power

    Chrome OS is designed to compete against Windows, not iOS, Windows Phone 7, or any other mobile operating system. With that in mind, consumers will soon start to expect power from the Chromebooks they buy. After all, if they’re buying a potential Windows replacement, they want to be able to do everything they can on Microsoft’s operating system. Unfortunately for those customers, they won’t be able to do so. That could be a significant contributing factor to the Chromebooks’ demise.

    7. The enterprise won’t jump

    Google and its vendor partners could be trying to appeal to enterprise customers with Chromebooks. It’s a bad idea. The corporate world is still too heavily invested in Windows and Office to even come close to justifying the adoption of Chromebooks. Even if some companies considered the option, it would take years before a full-scale deployment would take place. Chromebooks will need to survive without the enterprise’s help. By the looks of things, it will be quite difficult to do that.

    8. What’s the selling point?

    Samsung, Acer and even Google need to quickly determine why consumers should buy a Chromebook over any other device on the market. Right now, it’s not clear. Is it the cloud-based operating system? Is it that the operating system is from Google? Is it the platform’s value proposition as an alternative to tablets? For now, there’s no key selling point that would make any consumer want to run out and buy a Chromebook. If the companies don’t find one soon, Chromebooks might ending up sitting idle on store shelves.

    9. Google isn’t marketing it effectively

    All in all, Google has done little so far to effectively market its new operating system. Google has been developing and talking about Chrome OS for nearly two years. Yet Google has done very little to build up hype or excitement for the operating system. It’s quite possible that when the Chromebooks are released on June 15, few will notice and the devices will languish on store shelves next to the ill-fated Windows netbooks.

    10. It’s an expensive proposition

    When one considers the cost of owning a Chromebook over a full-year period, it becomes an expensive proposition. Take Samsung’s Series 5 3G Chromebook, for example. The device will retail in the U.S. for $499. If a user invests in even the cheapest data package—a 1GB plan for $20 per month—they will end up paying $740 in the first year alone. Considering Chrome OS relies upon the Web to do everything, it’s not a stretch to say the cheaper plans with less data might not cut it. For some customers, a Chromebook might just cost a bit too much for what Google’s vendor partners are offering.

    Sotrce: Google Chromebooks from Samsung, Acer Will Fail: 10 Reasons Why - Cloud Computing - News & Reviews -
  2. reghakr

    reghakr Excellent Member

    Jan 26, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Google wants to save the world from Windows with a browser-based, cloud-only laptop. But the cloud 'tortures users,' too.

    Computerworld - Everyone wants what Microsoft's got, namely control of the most widely used computing platform. Or, more accurately, everyone wants the billions and billions of dollars that flow in from the dominance of desktop computing.

    Replacing Windows shouldn't be hard. Everyone hates Windows, right?

    That seems to be Google's thinking. The company announced this week that its shiny new Chromebooks will become available to order online starting June 15 in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

    Chromebooks are laptops powered by Google's Chromium, which is an open-source, browser-based operating system. The laptops will be built by Samsung and Acer, and they will be priced at $499 if you want 3G capability, with Wi-Fi-only models available for $429. They will be available at Best Buy and via

    You can also "rent" Chromebooks. Businesses will pay $28 per month and schools $20. Software updates are constant and automatic. Hardware replacement happens automatically with failures and new versions.

    Unlike Chrome, which is Google's browser application, Chromium has a built-in Flash player, a PDF viewer, an automatic self-updater and other features.

    Google claims that Chromebooks have multiple advantages over other computers, including USB storage, a limited file manager, offline use of apps and data, superfast boot times and 8.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. The company emphasizes that no data is lost when a machine is damaged, lost or stolen.

    Google co-founder Sergey Brin offered this analysis: "With Microsoft, and other operating system vendors, I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users. It's torturing everyone in this room. It's a flawed model fundamentally."

    It shouldn't be too hard for Chromebooks to compete with "torture."

    It's true that Windows computing can be painful and is a flawed model. But there's one major problem with Brin's statement: His sales pitch exists in a theoretical fantasy world where there is no distinction between personal and business computing.

    When you think through the implications for these two markets separately, you can see that Chromebooks are best for neither.

    Why Chromebooks aren't best for consumers
    The idea that cloud-based computing is all about user happiness strains credulity. The whole purpose of cloud computing is to protect organizations from their users.

    Chromebooks take away user freedom and control. Yet Google is pitching the concept as an attraction to consumers.

    Corporations may initially like Google's cloud model because it fences users in and makes it impossible for users to break things. Schools might like Chromebooks because they will make it difficult for students to do things they're not supposed to do, such as download malicious code. But few consumers would choose limitations over freedom.

    If consumers actually wanted browser-only computing, they would simply do browser-only computing. Nothing stops anyone from buying a $350 15-inch laptop at Walmart, downloading the Chrome browser and then doing all of their computing tasks inside Chrome.

    Nobody does that because it's unappealing. People like to install applications, and they will do so if they can.

    People who want to replace their "flawed" Windows PCs have an alternative that's superior to Chromebooks: namely, the app model invented by Apple for the iOS, and used by Google Android, HP's TouchPad and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook. App-based touch tablets solve the "torture" problem Brin highlighted, without the problems inherent in cloud-only computing.

    And I'll just come right out and say it: Chromebooks are ugly. The hardware is ugly, and the Web is ugly, for the most part.

    Thanks to the iPad, consumers have come to expect devices that are aesthetically beautiful, graphically appealing and fun. The Chromebook promises only drab utilitarianism. App-based touch tablets will be more popular for consumers than Chromebooks for the same reason that American Idol is more popular than C-SPAN.

    Why Chromebooks aren't best for business
    Yes, Windows PCs "torture" users. But so does the cloud.

    Browsers aren't perfectly secure and reliable, and neither are Internet connections or websites.

    Personally, I use three browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer. I do this because each browser has its own limitations and problems. I've been struggling with the most recent version of Firefox -- it crashes and does other weird things. So I've been using Chrome more as an alternative. But Chrome doesn't have my needed Firefox plug-ins. And it doesn't support RSS. I use each for different tasks. But when I hit a brick wall with both, I use Internet Explorer as my browser of last resort.

    Chromebooks wouldn't give you this choice. If Google releases a flawed update, you're stuck with it. If it breaks your plug-ins, too bad. If it doesn't support your favorite website, tough luck.

    Besides, if Chrome is so great, why doesn't Google use Android on it?

    Internet connections can have problems, too. Both 3G and Wi-Fi have their own sets of challenges. Mobile broadband connections don't connect in many locations. Home Wi-Fi routers can stop working. Of course, these things also happen with regular PCs. And Google is working hard to enable offline browsing. But when my connection is down with a PC, at least I can still use all my applications and files.

    Here's the most important thing: The Internet itself can't be trusted to handle 100% of our computing needs.

    Google's own Blogger service went down for more than 24 hours this week. To restore service, Google rolled back to an older, backed-up version, which didn't include 30 hours of blog posts for Google's millions of users. As I was writing this column, Google was working to restore the lost posts.

    Such disruptions happen all the time, even for cloud-based services that are supposed to be bulletproof. Amazon's EC2 website hosting service -- which exists to provide fail-safe, totally reliable hosting -- experiences catastrophic outages. The most recent outage occurred in April. The glitch took down Foursquare, Reddit, Quora and other major services. It took Amazon four days -- four days! -- to return service to normal.

    Cloud computing is great, but only in combination with "regular" computing. The only reliable way to manage data is to store and back up locally, and also to the cloud.

    The Chromebook model requires the user to have a fully functional machine, browser, connection and Web services. Without each and every one of these elements working perfectly, a Chromebook is nothing but a tray for serving snacks.

    The big question is this: Do you trust Google to keep this program going?

    Google has gained a reputation lately of simply canceling projects that aren't working out. The company has killed off Wave, Lively, Answers, Dodgeball, Video and other high-visibility projects. People start getting excited about a platform, then one day Google makes an announcement, pulls the plug and that's it.

    Even more relevant is the cancellation of Google's Nexus One phone. Google came up with a new way to sell phones and rolled it out in January, 2010. The Nexus One was available only online, and unlocked. Google assumed that users would be happy to provide tech support to each other, and so the company didn't set up any way to support users. They assumed wrong. The phone was taken off the market in July.

    The question on the minds of businesses considering the Chromebook is this: Will Google end support?

    Businesses are used to buying equipment from companies like Hewlett-Packard, IBM and others that tend to support their products even if they're not runaway successes. And they provide migration plans if they do end product lines.

    If a company is going to buy 300 Chromebooks and reorganize its IT department accordingly, it's going to need assurances that the platform will be supported for at least a decade. I haven't heard Google give that assurance.

    The Chromebook's cloudy future
    Google says one advantage of Chromebooks is that they don't have applications that need to be patched and updated. But that isn't true. Web-based apps get updated. The difference is that those updates happen without the knowledge, consent or control of either the user or the IT administrator.

    This reminds me of the myth that cloud computing doesn't involve servers or hard drives. Of course it does.

    The Chromebook proposition is not the absence of software, patches, servers and hard drives. It's the removal of these things from your control.

    Who wants that?

    The Chromebook idea sounds cool in theory. But in practice, a cloud-based laptop isn't best for consumers, and it's not best for business. The Chromebook will fail.

    Source: Elgan: Why Chromebooks will fail - Computerworld

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