Why Google Should Subsidize Chromebooks Now
It's looking like Google should focus on what is going on with Chromebooks. Acer is out with an updated version of its very popular C7 Chromebook portable computer, which runs Google's Chrome OS operating system. Meanwhile, companies like Samsung and Asus have made clear that they are going to focus less on Microsoft's Windows RT and more on alternative platforms like Android and Chrome OS.
Chrome OS is also seeing a second wave of interest from Google itself, with officials from the company making very clear that they have no plans to give up on the operating system. New Chromebook systems are arriving, and Google is complementing the very cloud-focused Chrome OS platform with extras such as Google Drive space--free storage in the cloud. Now is the time for Google to offer true subsidies for purchases of Chromebooks.
At just over $200, Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung have carved out a niche as popular, inexpensive portable computers. They're also improving, as evidenced in PCMag's current review of Acer's updated C7 Chromebook. We've heard from many people here at OStatic who are buying these simply to put their favorite Linux distros on the machines.
Many more buyers are using Chrome OS, which feeds them into Google's lucrative ad/search ecosystem--a phenomenon that matters a lot to Google. The truth is, Google would be smart to kick-start the market for Chrome OS and Chromebooks by subsidizing systems and the software that comes with them.
If the company offered businesses who buy Chromebooks in bulk steep price drops, sales might bump up. Google already does offer free subsidies of simple services for Chromebooks. For example, buyers of Chromebooks have been getting 100GB of free Google Drive storage. But these portable systems are one of the few bright spots in the PC market, and Google could increase market share for them substantially by subsidizing overall prices.
One thing's for sure: There are multiple scenarios through which Google could still turn Chrome OS into a success, including possibly subsidizing Chromebooks for businesses that might buy them in bulk. Don't count Chome OS out yet.