#chromebooks

Ben Thompson:

Meanwhile, the new entrant may not have all of the required performance ā€“ like my Chromebook ā€“ but along with that missing performance comes additional simplicity. Paradoxically, the fact the new entrant has less-than-desired performance makes it even better from a user experience standpoint. And, when the performance gets close enough, that user experience advantage makes it an obvious choice over a higher end product that does more, in every sense of the word.

This is a flip-side that most people fail to look at. One man’s feature is another man’s bloat.

The recent rise of the Chromebook suggests it may have hit enough features without the bloat of a Windows machine. A weakness becomes a strength.

More on Microsoft’s Chromebook nightmare, Miguel Helft:

But a story close to home gave me reason to think that Chromebooks are the latest headache for Microsoft, which has struggled to gain traction in phones and tablets at a time when growth in the PC market has stalled. At the public elementary school that my two sons attend in Oakland, the parent teacher association, on whose board I serve, recently decided to purchase 36 Chromebooks for students in the fourth grade. A few weeks later, we received news that the school district would purchase an additional 70 or so Chromebooks — and would upgrade the Wi-Fi in the school so all the new machines could work simultaneously. This allows half of fourth and fifth graders to work on computers at any one time, if their teachers decide it’s appropriate.

What was striking was not so much that a school in an urban district would purchase 100 Chromebooks, but that there was never any discussion of purchasing Windows machines. When an alternative to the Chromebooks was discussed, the conversation was about Macs — of which there are several in the school library, media lab, and some classrooms — or iPads.

While only anecdotal, this sure sounds like the ultimately disaster scenario for Microsoft.

Gregg Keizer:

By NPD’s tallies, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012; last year, Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales.

Stephen Baker of NPD pointed out what others had said previously: Chromebooks have capitalized on Microsoft’s stumble with Windows 8. “Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices,” Baker said in a Monday statement.

Part of the attraction of Chromebooks is their low prices: The systems forgo high-resolution displays, rely on inexpensive graphics chipsets, include paltry amounts of RAM — often just 2GB — and get by with little local storage. And their operating system, Chrome OS, doesn’t cost computer makers a dime.

Even more remarkable: two Chromebooks, one by Samsung and one by Acer, are the two best-selling laptops on all of Amazon (and a second Acer model is #5).

It perhaps took a bit longer than originally anticipated, but The Microsoft Squeeze is now being fully applied.