Google Chromebooks: A Bright Spot in the Lackluster Portable PC Market
So far this year, market research news has been beyond dreary for PCs and PC equipment makers. But, as sales of PCs slip, sales of new-generation devices, including tablets, are on the rise. And, among PC alternatives, it turns out that Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS platform, are bucking the downward trend.
As reported by Bloomberg, based on market research from NPD, Chromebooks have grabbed 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300 in the past eight months, making them the fastest growing subset of the PC industry.
Back in October, we covered the arrival of Samsung's Chromebook portable computer running Google's Chrome OS and selling for the strikingly low price of $249. Then in November, Acer followed up with its C7 Chromebook, shown above, that sells for only $199. The arrival of these machines just about coincides with the beginning of the eight-month period for Chromebook sales that NPD has measured, and during that time Chromebook sales have been on fire.
Chromebooks have been criticized for not coming with as much built-in software as alternative portable computers, but Google is swiftly turning both Chrome OS and Chrome into good platforms for running "packaged apps" that compete with top-notch applications available on other laptops.
Additionally, Chromebooks come with many free incentives. In this post, I suggested that it would be wise for Google to subsidize some of the costs and throw in free services for Chrome OS-based portable computers to seed a market for them. In this post, I suggested that Google could offer free storage incentives to accompany new Chromebooks through its brand new Google Drive service. And, users are getting free cloud storage and many other freebies when they purchase Chromebooks.
We've even heard from readers here at OStatic that many people want to purchase Chromebooks simply to put their favorite Linux distributions on the low-cost devices. There's nothing wrong with that, and Chromebooks are likely to continue to sell well for the remainder of this year--at least compared to PCs.