Microsoft’s Scroogled ad campaign has never been all that clever and it may have reached a new level of lameness with its latest ad that targets Chromebooks, Google’s cheap browser-centric laptop alternatives that some estimates have claimed are selling even worse than Microsoft’s first-generation Surface RT. The ad depicts a woman trying to sell her Chromebook off in a pawn shop only to be laughed out of the building because the device is “not a real laptop.” The pawn shop owner then goes off on a long diatribe about how Google is using Chromebooks to scoop up customer data that it will use for advertisements, which is of course something that Microsoft would never do to its users. Why Microsoft is wasting its time targeting a device that is barely on most consumers’ radars is anyone’s guess but you can watch the whole video below. More →
Windows 8 tablets aren’t the only devices that are about to get a battery boost from Intel’s Haswell processors. Google announced on Wednesday that new Chromebooks from Acer, HP, Asus and Toshiba would be available “in the coming months.” Most importantly, the new browser-centric laptops would feature Intel’s Haswell processors, which means that they should receive a significant boost in battery life. Although Google has positioned Chromebooks as low-cost alternatives to traditional laptops, there is little evidence that they’ve caught on as the company had hoped. Research from NetMarketShare posted earlier this year suggests that Chrome OS is used even less frequently than Windows RT, so it seems that Google has a way to go to convince people to buy laptops that almost exclusively serve as interfaces for web browsers.
Google is capitalizing on Microsoft’s failure to revitalize the PC industry with Windows 8. While traditional PCs are having their worst year to date, shipments of Chromebooks are expected to double and in some cases triple in the second half of the year. According to a report from Digitimes, Chromebook orders from Acer will increase by three-fold while Samsung will raise its orders by 400%. HP and Lenovo are also expected to increase shipments from the first half of the year. Chromebooks are the fastest growing PC market segment, with offerings from Samsung and Acer capturing 20% to 25% of the sub-$300 PC market. The growth of Google’s low-cost laptops has also been noticed by other PC vendors such as ASUS, which will release its first Chromebook model later this year.
It would appear Google’s increased marketing efforts that sought to bolster Chromebooks sales have paid off. According to data from market research firm NPD Group, the low-cost computers have captured between 20% and 25% of the sub-$300 laptop market in U.S. in the past eight months. The firm noted that Chromebooks are now the fastest growing segment of the PC market based on price, Bloomberg reported. NPD analyst Stephen Baker explained that Google will likely continue to benefit from the growth of the sub-$300 PC market, which is expected to increase more than 10% in 2013. By comparison, the PC industry as a whole is forecasted to see negative growth of -7.8% this year. Google’s Chrome OS has given PC makers a glimmer of hope, and has helped it lure some of Microsoft’s key vendor partners like Lenovo and HP, both of which have now begun to sell Chromebooks.
A handful of companies are said to be preparing new Chromebook models that will launch later this year. According to a report from Digitimes, both Acer and ASUS are optimistic about the long-term prospects of Google’s Chromebooks and are working on low-priced computers that will debut in the second half of 2013. Acer is reportedly planning to target students with a new 11.6-inch model to be released in July, while new Chrome OS-powered computers are expected from ASUS, HP, Samsung and Lenovo later this year. Of note, ASUS never planned to enter the market but has apparently rethought its strategy. Google is also said to be working with ASUS, Acer, HP and Samsung on so-called “Androidbooks” that could debut in the near future.
If Windows RT is a “lemon” as some have suggested, then what does that make the Chromebook? ZDNet’s Ed Bott took a look at the latest numbers from NetMarketShare and found that there’s absolutely no mention of Google’s Chrome OS anywhere in its statistics for the most-used desktop operating systems. When Bott asked NetMarketShare why Chrome hadn’t made an appearance in the rankings, the firm replied that Chromebooks accounted for “0.023 percent weighted worldwide usage,” which put them below the minimum 0.1% threshold required to make an appearance on the charts. To put this into perspective, Bott notes that “in nearly two years on the market, all of those Chromebooks have achieved a smaller percentage of usage than Windows RT earned as of January 2013, after only three months on the market.”
Chromebooks haven’t exactly taken the world by storm so far, but that doesn’t mean Google (GOOG) is giving up on its vision for browser-centric notebook computers anytime soon. In a new piece over at Time’s TechLand blog, Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin says that Google’s upcoming merger of Android and its Chrome operating system makes it much more likely that Chromebooks will become attractive to consumers going forward. More →
If sales of the Surface have been disappointing so far, then where does that leave sales of Google’s (GOOG) Chromebooks? Unnamed sources have told Digitimes that sales of Google Chromebooks have only totaled around 500,000 so far, which gives the Chrome OS less than a 1% share of the notebook market. Digitimes‘ sources also say that Chromebooks could struggle to gain any traction against Windows-based notebooks for at least the next two years because Google “will still need some time to integrate” Chrome and Android in order to broaden Chromebooks’ appeal for consumers. Google recently tried to generate more hype for Chromebooks by releasing its own Chromebook Pixel that features a 12.85-inch, 2560 x 1700-pixel touchscreen display and hefty $1,300 price tag.
Like Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) is in a period of transition. Both companies cut their teeth in software and grew to lead their respective industries, but then they came to a realization: unless a company controls all aspects of the user experience — software and hardware — a product will never take shape in the manner they intended. On Microsoft’s end, the company is changing that with its Surface lineup. Google, on the other hand, bought Motorola for $12.5 billion. More →
Since the Windows-based PC market hasn’t been doing so hot lately, HP (HPQ) has apparently decided to give Chromebooks a shot. 9to5Google on Monday found a new specs sheet posted on HP’s website detailing a not-yet-announced Pavilion Chromebook that features a 14-inch display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, a 1.1GHz Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD. There’s no word yet on when the pricing or release date for the new Chromebook, but it’s hardly surprising that HP has decided to try its own hand at selling Chromebooks since rival manufacturer Samsung (005930) has had some success in selling the low-cost laptops in recent weeks.
Executives at Acer (2353) have had some harsh words for Microsoft (MSFT) regarding its Windows 8 operating system. CEO JT Wang was fuming after the software giant unveiled its Surface tablet and even issued a warning to the company, while other executives have blamed Microsoft for confusing would-be Windows 8 buyers. President Jim Wong said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday that Windows 8 has not been successful and the company has explored alternatives to increase revenue, such as Google’s (GOOG) Chrome OS. More →
Now that Google (GOOG) has released smartphones and tablets under its own name, it was only a matter of time before it started releasing its own self-branded Chromebook computers as well. Unnamed sources have told the Chinese-language China Times that Google plans to launch a 12.85-inch Chromebook with touchscreen capabilities by the end of the year. And unlike with the Nexus 4 smartphone or the Nexus 7 tablet, Google isn’t going to a big-name OEM to produce the new Chromebook either, as China Times’ sources say Google is directly employing Taiwan-based Compal Electronics as its OEM, while tapping Wintek to supply touch panels.
What’s better than a $249 Samsung (005930) Chromebook? How about a Chromebook from Acer (2353) that sells for just $199. Google (GOOG) announced on Monday that Acer’s new C7 Chromebook would go on sale starting Tuesday for just $199 on Google Play and on Best Buy’s (BBY) website. The C7 Chromebook features an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768, 100 GB of Google Drive cloud storage and a 320 GB hard disk drive, while weighing in at three pounds. Google’s first super-cheap Chrome-based laptop, the Samsung Chromebook, quickly sold out of stock when it went on sale last month, so it will be interesting to see if the company has similar success with the even-cheaper Acer model.