Chromebooks suffer from the same problem plaguing most products that arrive before the market or infrastructure is readily available to support them. Many may feel boxed in with a product that has to maintain a complete reliance on the cloud – and although the Internet has done its best to expand into almost every corner – it’s still not completely ready. Chromebooks may be the future, but until the Internet is as abundant as electricity – and perhaps more abundant – the platform will struggle. There is still hope however, so here’s three things that could help.
Chromebooks are too expensive. Period. If I were to tell you that you could buy an Acer AC700 Chromebook for $299, but then buy a product, from the same manufacturer, for $249 with a 320 GB hard drive and roughly every available feature from the listed baseline Chromebook – you’d probably grab the latter. Especially if you can get most of the same functionality by just installing the free Chrome web browser on a standard laptop.
Chromebooks are extremely limited, and as a result, need to compete on price. If Google offered one for substantially less, like $150, you’d see less hesitancy in buying one, and might see more immersion in industries like education – where services like Google Drive are already being utilized in more progressive school districts.
2. Built-In 4G
I think it’s completely bananas that a device reliant on the Internet and its cloud services does not have built-in 4G – this is a no-brainer. Part of the benefit of Chrome OS, is that when connected to the Internet, everything is synced. If users are left with slow, sometimes unusable 3G, many might just end up buying a regular laptop. Chromebooks are also marketed as a productivity tools. So if you want true productivity, having the fastest possible connection is a necessity for the web-reliant Chrome OS.
Here’s another way you can offer a new type of device that could be competitively priced and incorporate 4G functionality as well. Google somehow found a way to offer the Nexus 7 for $200 with its quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU. So having a Chrome tablet (Chrometab?) for $100 makes sense. Anything more, and a wise consumer might look at it as a waste of money. With inexpensive tablets that are already on the market (Kindle Fire and Nexus 7), Chrome OS could find a home in this market. As of now, Chromebooks are a consumer’s second computer – and hardly ever their first. The problem is that, many have filled this segment with tablets, not additional laptops.
Google might be better off just focusing on Android and readdress Chrome OS in three or five years. HTML5 apps are the future, but not the norm – the infrastructure just isn’t there yet. 3G/4G wireless networks aren’t fast enough, abundant enough, or cheap enough to justify it either. But if Google focuses on demand generated from transitional products like Android and iOS, this could allow Google to focus on a current strength (Android) while infrastructure catches up to innovation. You can understand Google’s incentive to get their first, but the company should take a page out of its Android playbook. It highlights circumstances that reward innovation and flexibility before crowning victory to entrants who created or left the starting line first.