The future of the internet and computing might be in the cloud, but people are reluctant to give up their hard drives and programs. This has been made clear by the assumed poor performance of the Chromebook line of laptops over the last six months. The most recent price reductions of Acer and Samsung Chromebooks to a base of $299 just prior to Christmas is enough circumstantial evidence to show that we’re just not ready to dish out big bucks for cloud-based computers.
Like it or not, we use Microsoft Word. We feel safer storing our pictures on our hard drives. We don’t want to rely on persistent internet connections to access our documents because everybody has been in a situation where there was no internet connection available.
This is the basic reason behind the failure of the Chromebook. Google has put a ton of effort and emphasis on making this experiment into computer hardware work, but that statement in itself points to the other major problem with the Chromebook. It seems like an experiment. There has not been the marketing push that one would expect from a company of Google’s size trying out something new.
So far, the experiment has failed.
The Chromebook relies completely on the internet. Without a strong internet connection, you basically have a keyboard and a screen. This makes people worry both for personal and business use because the infrastructure doesn’t exist to maintain constant connections to the cloud.
The other challenge (which they’re trying to alleviate with the price reduction) is that they’re competing in the tablet price range. With 3G powered Chromebooks sitting in the $400-$500 range at launch, it was more expensive than most netbooks and competed directly with low-end laptops. Throw tablets into the mix and the niche that Chromebook would fit becomes too small. Schools and a few businesses might see the value, but most would not.
At $299 for the Wi-Fi version, they have a chance of getting some sold before Christmas, but the Kindle Fire is a sexier choice in that range.
Until reliable, powerful internet is available in nearly all places, the world is not ready to be completely reliant on the cloud for productivity and enjoyment. The Chromebook came out ahead of its time and Google priced itself out of consideration.