There's more evidence that Chromebooks are growing into the third major computer platform -- and that they could pose a risk to Microsoft Windows-based machines in large organizations. Google has announced that schools bought more than a million Chromebooks in the second quarter.
The announcement was made in a post on Google's Office Enterprise Blog, which was otherwise dedicated to the CIO for public schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut, David Andrade, explaining why his district selected Chromebooks. The figure was also revealed in an earnings call last week.
"I was a fan of the Chromebook right from the start," Andrade wrote, "because of their affordable price and ease of use." He added that his school system "could buy three Chromebooks for the price of a single desktop computer, and the district's small IT team wouldn't have to struggle to keep up with the repairs and updates on aging PCs," since the thin-client, Internet-based Chromebooks update automatically.
'Very Strong Growth'
Google also replaces malfunctioning Chromebooks with others at no additional cost. Last month, Google announced that its Google Play for Education, a portal for teachers and schools that it launched at the end of 2013 to make Android-based apps easier to purchase, will now also offer Chrome apps and books. The company has said that about 10,000 schools are using Chromebooks.
Recently, Microsoft announced that there would soon be $199, Windows-based HP Stream laptops, a move that many observers have said is an attempt to slow Chromebooks' growth.
Ross Rubin, principal analyst for industry research firm Reticle Research, told us that a million units in schools "represents very strong growth" for Chromebooks. He pointed out that a lower price point for Windows laptops is only "one aspect" of Chromebooks' competitive positioning, in addition to its "simplicity and manageability."
"Moving forward," Rubin said, "Chromebooks are poised to become a much more competitive option" for organizations, because Google is "embracing more powerful Chromebooks with faster processors and is working with developers to require that apps work in offline modes."
A Net OS for Microsoft?
It's conceivable that Microsoft, which is developing its new directions under new CEO Satya Nadella, could create its own Net-oriented OS that, like Google, taps into its growing library of cloud-based apps.
Rubin noted that, if Microsoft took that route, it would end up competing directly with its computer-based OS, Office apps and other products. On the other hand, one might note, a key lesson of this age of disruptive technology is that, if anyone is going to eat your lunch -- and consume your product line -- it might as well be you.
For Google's part, Rubin pointed out that the tech giant avoids competition between its Android OS and its Chrome computer OS by "not actively encouraging the development of Android-based computers."
Some obstacles still remain, however, before Chromebooks can gain larger acceptance in the enterprise. These include supporting other e-mail options besides Gmail and the ability to support existing apps that employees already know how to use.
Posted: 2014-07-21 @ 11:26am PT
I'm sure that chromebooks will become the next big thing. The ability to send back a broken device and get a new one for free is a huge selling point and Google is adapting to meet the demands from other existing developers apps.