Chromebooks; Next Big Hit or Next Big Flop?

Chromebooks; Next Big Hit or Next Big Flop?
Source: GoogleGoogle has just launched a new Chromebook called the Pixel. It sells for $1299 and has some impressive features like a high resolution 239 ppi touchscreen display but it has one missing component and that is, a mainstream operating system that runs applications like Microsoft Office. What exactly is a Chromebook and what applications can you run on it? These are questions we’ll try and answer in this brief guide to Chromebooks.
Google Has Too Many “Chrome” Things One source of confusion when it comes to the Chromebook may be the fact that Google has lots of different things with Chrome in their names. Not only is it unclear what the difference between the Chrome browser and the Chrome OS, it’s also unclear how Android fits into the whole Chrome ecosystem.
Chrome Browser Built for “Speed, Simplicity, and Security”At one time Netscape had the leading browser until Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with Windows and put Netscape out of business. Apple went with the Safari browser for the MacOS while Firefox offered a good open source alternative to Apple and Microsoft. Google entered the browser market with the Chrome browser which was faster than its competitors and worked well with other Google services. The Chrome browser runs across all popular mobile and desktop operating systems including Google’s own Chrome OS which runs Chromebooks. The Chrome browser environment includes a library of third party extensions which can be found at the Chrome store under “extensions.”
What’s the Difference Between Chrome and Chromium?Chrome OS is the official Google operating system that runs on Chromebooks. Chromium OS is an open sourced version of Chrome OS and is available for the open source community to modify. There is also an open source version of the Chrome browser called Chromium (no OS). The advantage of the open sourced versions is they have a whole community of developers to create new features and enhancements. Chromium OS can run on lots of hardware including a new version for the Raspberry Pi. The advantage of the official Google “Chrome” versions is they don’t have compatibility issues with apps and hardware but they are also constrained by Google’s release cycles. One question in our minds is how many apps will be available for Chrome, and that includes everything from Solitaire to Acrobat? However, maybe that’s the wrong mindset for a cloud-based device and if HTML 5 lives up to expectations, operating-specific apps won’t be as important as they are now. You can check out the assortment of Chrome apps at Googles Chrome Web Store.
Android is a Different EcosystemOne of the biggest sources of confusion comes from the relationship between Chrome OS and Android. These are both Linux-derived operating systems although you can’t run any of the, close to 700,000 Android apps on a Chromebook under the Chrome OS. We suspect Apple, Microsoft and Google will all slowly merge their desktop and mobile operating systems in the future but for the present you have to ask yourself if you might be better off with a tablet and keyboard that can take advantage of all those mobile apps.
What’s a Chromebook?

When Google first announced the Chromebook at Google IO 2011 the reaction to a $500 laptop device that didn’t run Windows or MacOS was pretty lukewarm. Reviewers and consumers did however, warm up to the $250 and cheaper versions from vendors like Samsung and Acer which offered 10 second boot-up times and a better offering of apps and Google services. There are still only a handful of Chromebooks to choose from but if you’re looking for a trouble-free and inexpensive alternative to a laptop, Chromebooks are an option worth considering.
We Don’t Get the Latest $1,299 Google Chromebook As much as we like the idea of a $250 online “terminal” we really have to wonder what the marketing team at Google was thinking with the recently released Google Chromebook Pixel. Yes it has a 12.85-inch high resolution 2560 x 1700, 239 ppi touchscreen display in an attractive metal frame but we really wonder who is going to pick this device over an Apple Macbook, Lenovo Thinkpad or some other Ultrabook? We’re open to comments on this product.
Chromebook, Tablet or Laptop; What’s Best? There is something to be said for a fast and responsive laptop that lives online, is not as susceptible to malware and malfunctions, streams music and videos, runs free Google apps like Google Docs and Google Maps and uses Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive and Google+. On the other hand, for $199 you can get a Nexus 7 tablet and add a $25 Bluetooth keyboard and have an “Androidbook.” You can also buy a very capable Windows 8 laptop for a couple hundred dollars more than a Chromebook. We can see how a Chromebook would make a lot of sense in a school setting but we wonder if it makes as much sense for the average consumer. We also doubt that a lot of Android developers will flock to the Chrome OS platform leaving a meager selection of apps in the Chrome Store. On the other hand, as we mentioned before, if HTML 5 takes off as some predict, that could level the playing field by making a lot more applications available for Chromebooks.

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