Chromebooks Gain Important Features, Appear to Be Here to Stay
This week brought a slew of new announcements from top hardware makers who are introducing new low priced and ever more functional Chromebooks. Portable computers based on Google's Chrome OS had found their niche in schools already, but it's clear that hardware makers ranging from Dell to Lenovo to Asus want to win over consumers and businesses with Chromebooks, too.
Part of what's driving Chromebooks forward is that Google is on a rapid release cycle with Chrome OS. And, very importantly, Google has relaxed the fiercely cloud-centric vision it originally had for Chrome OS, so that applications for Chromebooks can be used offline.
You can now get Chromebooks that will let you open and edit Word and Excel files, and Google's Chrome Apps store now calls out applications that you can use offline. While you still can't get some coveted software found on PCs and Macs, such as Photoshop, you can edit videos, play games and more on Chromebooks.
As covered here this week, Lenovo has a couple of very attractive Chromebooks coming out, both under $300. At these kinds of prices, some Chromebook buyers are buying the devices simply so that they can put their favorite Linux distributions on the machines.
Meanwhile, Google is taking the rapid release cycle that it has favored for developing the Chrome browser, and following the model with Chrome OS. The platform is gaining more offline functionality, and continues to have remarkable security.
There are even a lot of predictions coming out about Chromebooks representing a market share threat to both PCs and Macs. When Chrome OS first arrived, questions swirled about it, but it now looks like Google's platform is here to stay.