Google’s CEO Larry Page is famous for saying that Google prides itself on misses as well as hits. Well Larry has a big ChromeOS/Chromebook miss on his hands. In the past year, ye Editor has found himself disagreeing with MarketWatch’s John Dvorak on a number of his editorials. But on his recent review of Google’s Chromebook as lacking a compelling combination of features, operational modes, and pricing – ye Editor has to say “right on John”. Here is the most telling arguments:
I’m not sure if Google Inc. expects its new kind of laptop computer running on the Chrome operating system to catch on. Let me assure the company that the possibility is nil — unless the so-called Chromebooks sell for $99, and even that may be too much to pay.
The Chrome OS requires a connection to the Internet, because it is essentially a conduit to Google and the Web and not much else. Samsung and Acer recently have announced Chromebook machines. First of all, you have to compare them with the Pavilion dm1z from Hewlett-Packard, a hot little notebook loaded with capabilities, including the ability to play Blu-ray movies on the HD screen. This Windows 7 powerhouse costs $450 and is currently the benchmark product, in my mind, when it comes to inexpensive laptops.
That’s only $100 more than the cheapest Chromebook that so far has been announced. The Chromebook is a dumb terminal, and this has been the problem with network-centric machines: They are always too expensive for what you get.Often overlooked is the fact that people are used to a certain standard of computing with any product. Users expect it to have a hard disk and to be able to work offline, for example.
In addition, these devices are expected to play movies without worrying about a streaming Internet connection. What do you do with a Chromebook on an airplane with no WiFi?….
The Internet is not everywhere. It is not always accessible; it is often unreliable. It can be slow. This is not something on which you want to be totally dependent. Chrome is totally dependent on it.
Let me add to John’s points. First, the number of applications available to laptops and PCs far outnumber those available to Chromebook clients. Second, the number of development languages available to PCs not only far exceeds what is available on the Chromebook but also easily outperforms Chrome book apps as well as they run in native code rather than virtual machine code. Third, the range of existing plus new hardware and software clearly favors the PCs.
My guess the Chromebook class of machines is targetted towards some specialty markets like the Suns Java workstation of a decade ago. Also as a cloud machine tablets and PCs might just do as well. Finally, John is right – the price for the first few Chromebooks seems high against some stiff competition.
So John, if you could get on the right side of RIM maybe we could have more agreements.