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Limitations and All, Chromebooks Appear To Be Selling

timothy posted about a year ago | from the not-all-things-to-all-people dept.

Stats 126

puddingebola writes "A number of different websites are commenting on NPD's consumer research numbers that claim Chromebooks are getting 20-25% of the sub-$300 PC market. From the article: 'The NPD says that Google's Chromebook has now gained 20 to 25 percent of the sub-$300 laptop market in the U.S. That's a huge gain for a computer that's only been on the market for two years. It's even more impressive when you consider that Chromebooks were seen as nothing but a self-serving experiment on the part of Google for the first year of their existence.' Stephen Vaughan-Nichols is also blogging about this over at ZDnet. While the PC market shrank again in the second quarter of 2013, Chromebooks seem to have grown."

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Love mine. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266247)

Got a Samsung ARM Chromebook. Perfect little netbook. Boots in 5 seconds, all day battery, 1 kg, plenty fast, does everything I need it to do. Can load linux in chroot environment if I want/need more functionality (hardly ever do). Prefer it to a tablet for browsing and media consumption.

Re:Love mine. (4, Interesting)

Rinikusu (28164) | about a year ago | (#44266473)

Same. Picked one up for the gf for Valentine's Day. She's loved it and hasn't found any issues that she's irritated with. So, last week, I bought one for myself. Since I do all my writing in Google Docs, anyway, and all I want to use it for is writing and researching shit I'm writing, I didn't see an issue. As you mentioned, all day battery, lightweight, fast boots, I'm pretty tickled with it. And it was $250. If it gets stolen, it's much easier to fork out $250 than buying a new Macbook Air.

I still have a "primary" laptop that I use for gaming/heavier work. But I don't need to carry that everywhere with me.

If I could submit a feature request for the next iteration of this Samsung, it's to add a backlit keyboard. That'd make it perfect.

Here's my magic formula for travelling.. (5, Interesting)

VValdo (10446) | about a year ago | (#44267251)

1 Samsung Arm CB + x2go [x2go.org] + Chrubuntu [github.com] (13.10 xubuntu) =

full access to running programs on my home Linux PC from anywhere, with HUGE battery life, at less than 2 lbs and $250. With x2go I can run applications remotely, and the chromebook only has to handle the UI, not the actual processing. As a result, I can run Intel apps and it feels pretty fast, even from 2000 miles away. If the computer gets stolen, it's only a loss of $250 as opposed to the thousands a lightweight laptop would cost, and the data is on my home computer, not the cb...

x2go btw is amazing, tunneling linux application's interfaces through ssh, so they feel like they're running on the chromebook, but aren't. If you can set up ssh, you can set up x2go.

Chromebooks are quite nice to use (1)

echtertyp (1094605) | about a year ago | (#44269765)

If one messes around with a Chromebook, and then some Windows 8 type device, the difference is startling (in favor of the Chromebook). Chromebooks out-Apple Apple by just making it easy to do the things most people want to do. The voice recognition is really, really good. Windows makes it surprisingly difficult to do *anything*.

i love chromebooks and google and all but (-1, Offtopic)

theRunicBard (2662581) | about a year ago | (#44266271)

Stephen Vaughan-Nichols is a troll who just toots anti-windows-8 propaganda like a parrot. I followed his articles for a while and they're all kind of the same, really.

most people never wanted local storage (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266277)

Outside of a minority of technically minded folks, most people never wanted local storage in the first place. They don't want to understand it, manage it, back it up, or deal with it in any way. That simple fact is one of the key drivers toward cloud computing, web apps, and away from the local-storage model of computing.

People's data is generally safer in the cloud than locally. Yes, yes, we all know that those service can go away. But the fact is that even so, it's still safer than Joe Schmoe trying to keep his data safe locally.

So the market is pushing heavily in this direction, driven by the demand of the consumer masses. It's a slow transition over time, but eventually, that's going to be where the economies of scale are. Sure, workstation-type computers will still be available for the few people doing CAD, etc, but they will be far more expensive and not generally purchased by most of the general public. This is already starting to happen, and it's only going to accelerate.

I know very few people who really want a PC any more. They virtually all prefer tablets, smartphones, and so on.

Cap (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44266537)

People's data is generally safer in the cloud than locally.

At $10 per gigabyte to upload and $10 per gigabyte to download over a cellular network in the United States, this safety has a substantial cost associated with it.

Re:Cap (5, Interesting)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#44266899)

At $10 per gigabyte to upload and $10 per gigabyte to download over a cellular network in the United States, this safety has a substantial cost associated with it.

1. if you don't have access to broadband, this isn't for you
2. if you need to transfer a substantial portion of your total data each month, this isn't for you

in other words, it's for almost everyone.

99% (-1, Troll)

jjohn_h (674302) | about a year ago | (#44268247)

>>> 1. if you don't have access to broadband, this isn't for you ... in other words, it's for almost everyone. >>>

Except for 99% of users in Latin America, Africa, Asia. Oh yes, you are right, who cares. Oh, you are right, who cares?

Re:Cap (4, Interesting)

readingaccount (2909349) | about a year ago | (#44268585)

Never in my life would I have expected Slashdotter of all people to be promoting living in the Cloud and giving away all control over your data to a corporation. Sure, the needs of regular folk are likely less than what we'd require, but it's still a fundamental issue of control that we shouldn't' be promoting.

Responsibility requires effort, but empowers the user. To basically give away that control simply because it's "too hard" to know how your files are saved and where on local storage, smacks of going backwards.

Re:Cap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44270379)

People have already willingly given away all control to Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest or whatever for the convenience. It's just a matter of access now.

Re:Cap (3, Interesting)

CronoCloud (590650) | about a year ago | (#44267239)

Two words.

Unlimited data.

The kind of people who would make their tablet their primary device are those who would pay for unlimited data

Re:most people never wanted local storage (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#44266707)

Outside of a minority of technically minded folks, most people never wanted local storage in the first place. They don't want to understand it, manage it, back it up, or deal with it in any way. That simple fact is one of the key drivers toward cloud computing, web apps, and away from the local-storage model of computing.

If that is so then why do 2 terabyte harddrives sell like hotcakes?

People's data is generally safer in the cloud than locally. Yes, yes, we all know that those service can go away. But the fact is that even so, it's still safer than Joe Schmoe trying to keep his data safe locally.

Most users use the same minimum length easily guessable password for all of their online accounts, There is no way you can call that safer.

So the market is pushing heavily in this direction, driven by the demand of the consumer masses. It's a slow transition over time, but eventually, that's going to be where the economies of scale are. Sure, workstation-type computers will still be available for the few people doing CAD, etc, but they will be far more expensive and not generally purchased by most of the general public. This is already starting to happen, and it's only going to accelerate.

And how pray tell are they going to get there data to the cloud? I know many nontechnical people with hardrives filled to the brim with assorted movies, music, pictures, documents and more throwing a few gigs in the cloud is easy moving terrabytes of high def home vaccation video, is going to take forever assuming you isp doesn't cut you off for using up you data allotment. I have friends that like to remix music there is no way in hell cloud music vender's like Pandora or spotify are going to let you touch their music library and let you make you own remix how is he to get the music if he depends only on the cloud to provide? the cloud suffers many problems from licensing, to cost, to security, to privacy, to bandwidth/data allotments, and more. the only real problem it fixs for the average joe is remote access.

The home pc is going to become a hybrid of pc/workstation/home server. it is not going anywhere. It is just not going to be replaced as often as it was before.

I know very few people who really want a PC any more. They virtually all prefer tablets, smartphones, and so on.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#44266729)

missed the last line in my reply, so i will fix it here,

I know very few people who really want a PC any more. They virtually all prefer tablets, smartphones, and so on.

no they just have a different use case for the tablet and the has slightly changed the pc's use case

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266791)

it is not going anywhere.

it already is. [forbes.com]

The "it's just replaced less often" meme has been analyzed and found not to be true. There are increasingly more people who aren't replacing their PCs with another PC when they die, but rather with a tablet.

Sorry, but the data disagrees with you. Don't confuse what you (and me too) want to be true, with what is actually true. Wishful thinking gets you nowhere.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44267737)

There are increasingly more people who aren't replacing their PCs with another PC when they die, but rather with a tablet.

When that time comes, I'm thinking more along the lines of replacing all my gear with a granite marker, or maybe a small urn.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266805)

Casual users more likely to replace their PCs with tablets [mnn.com]

Most users are casual users.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266989)

Most users are pieces of garbage, yes. They should be treated like the cattle they are.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#44266917)

Most users use the same minimum length easily guessable password for all of their online accounts, There is no way you can call that safer.

he meant safe in terms of losing the data, or not. not safe in terms of securing it.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44269257)

So what happens when your account gets hijacked? Someone hacked into my brother's hotmail account a couple of months ago and used it to send spam, and last month I got some spam from an old friend's (who I am no longer in touch with, so I didn't ask the details) yahoo account which I took to be a sign of her account getting hacked, she actually trusted me with her password (because I helped fix her computer several times) and it was in the form [superhero][number].When that time comes, I'm thinking more along the lines of replacing all my gear with a granite marker, or maybe a small urn.

If your account isn't secure, the data in it isn't safe in that you could lose it to someone that guesses the password (or security questions) on your account, and this is done just to send spam and not necessarily some personal vendetta.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44269027)

Clearly, what they want is magic.

Don't we all?

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44266969)

Exactly. Chromebooks are not anything like a PC. It is a dumb terminal connected to remote resources controlled by a third party. There are advantages and disadvantages to that arrangement. One advantage is that hardware and management costs tend to be less expensive, which if costs of the remote system can be managed then the end user benefits.

But even assuming that a chromebook and a PC are comparable, gaining 25% of a small market near zero profit market after two years is nothing to brag about. For one thing I see no numbers. is this 25% of 10 million computers? 25% of 1 million computer? When I look to buy computers I don't see many for less than $300, and can't imagine anyone really was to sell them, because what kind of commission is that?

Here is sucess story. After two years, Apple captured 5-8% of the world wide PC market with the iPad. Not the sub $300 market. No the sub $500 market. Not the sub $1000 market. The whole market.By no selling an tarted up advertising platform, but by selling a tool. A tool, that personally, I can say is effective because I use for work and it makes my work more efficient.

The articles are clearly astroturfing trying to make a failure of a product look like a success. And yes, compared to MS Windows 8 it probably is a success. But compared to hardware people want, it is not.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267279)

So, if articles are astroturfing for Google, can I assume you are shilling for Apple? I mean: same logic. If nobody can put in writing any statement that could be construed as supporting a positive opinion of any product without being accused of being paid for if, neither can you.
Also, if iPad is a tool, so are you.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (4, Interesting)

donaldm (919619) | about a year ago | (#44268341)

Exactly. Chromebooks are not anything like a PC. It is a dumb terminal connected to remote resources controlled by a third party.

While I have not done an exhaustive study on Chromebooks I find that in many ways they are very similar to a PC since they do have a disk drive (SSD), USB ports and WiFi which means you can store basic data on the drive and copy, move or read/write your data to a USB connected disk drive or another networked device (ie. Remote Services aka "the Cloud", or a PC). For people who want portability and long battery life Chromebooks are excellent however they don't have a huge amount of internal storage so you will not be able to install a large video library on them unless you put your library on a USB connected hard drive which will reduce battery life.

And yes, compared to MS Windows 8 it probably is a success.

I would not call "Windows 8" a failure although IMHO it is one of the worst GUI's I have ever seen. Basically if you purchase a new Laptop/PC you are normally going to get MS Windows 8 as the Operating System although it would be interesting to see how many MS Windows licenses were purchased by people wanting to upgrade the OS on their PC.

But compared to hardware people want, it is not.

I think you will find that the majority of people that want a portable PC like device are going to want either a tablet (PC or Apple), laptop (PC or Apple), smart-phone (Android or iOS) or a Chromebook and while a laptop may be the more flexible it normally has the worst battery life. Basically if you have an Android or even iOS phone and are happy with it but would like a larger screen with excellent battery life and a convenient application store then a tablet or Chromebook is a serious contender.

Please note I did not mention a Microsoft Smartphone since it's GUI is more in-line with MS Windows 8 which is definitely different to the Android or iOS GUI's.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44269223)

Dude, you really should get a clue, Apple Macs are PCs since 2000-something, most models even officially support installing Windows (or Linux you somehow menaged to avoid in your entire post on OS) on them. On top of mixing what PC means, you also managed to imply that tablets are PCs or Macs when in fact they are virtually always ARM SoC that do not fit any common standard, granted, the hybrid devices with full Windows 8 (not RT) are in fact PC or at least similar enough to run normal Windows, still, even Microsoft fanboys are not too fond of them, and Win8 is about as popular as Vista back in its time.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (1)

WhatAreYouDoingHere (2458602) | about a year ago | (#44269537)

Dude, you really should get a clue, Apple Macs are PCs since 2000-something, most models even officially support installing Windows (or Linux you somehow menaged to avoid in your entire post on OS) on them. On top of mixing what PC means,...

I blame the MS/Mac advertising for confusion of PC's definition. "Hi, I'm a Mac. Hi, I'm a PC"
They are both Personal Computers.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44269391)

An Appletard says what?

Re:most people never wanted local storage (3, Interesting)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | about a year ago | (#44267397)

Outside of a minority of technically minded folks, most people never wanted local storage in the first place. They don't want to understand it, manage it, back it up, or deal with it in any way. That simple fact is one of the key drivers toward cloud computing, web apps, and away from the local-storage model of computing.

Everyone wants local storage. The non-technically minded folks just don't know it. The only drivers towards cloud storage are marketing hype, marketing hype, and more marketing hype. "Cloud" is the new "E-".

People's data is generally safer in the cloud than locally.

Safer from what? Hackers? The NSA? I think yuo aer confusssed.

Sure, workstation-type computers will still be available for the few people doing CAD, etc, but they will be far more expensive and not generally purchased by most of the general public.

Oh, I see now. Its still the 1990's, and the desktop PC is still dying. We'll all be going back to the client-server structure.... any day now.....

I know very few people who really want a PC any more. They virtually all prefer tablets, smartphones, and so on.

That's funny, because everyone I know already has a smartphone, and the few who also have tablets found they can't actually do anything with it, and still use their PCs/Macs.

The death of the PC is being predicted by retarded market analysts who look at PC sales instead of PC ownership. PC sales are down for multiple reasons:
1. 5 year old PCs are still fast enough
2. windows 8 is terrible
3. we are (still) in an economic depression

Big companies WANT us to buy shit computers that can't do anything, because then we'll HAVE to use gay "cloud" apps for everything, and pay monthly fees for the privilege. It's the first step in instituting a 21st century techno-serfdom, with IP owners replacing the land-lords of old.

Don't think so? Wade through the annoying and insulting Office2013 install process, and then tell me Lord Balmer isn't telling us piss-ants to get back to the turnip fields.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (3, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44267669)

Everyone wants local storage. The non-technically minded folks just don't know it. The only drivers towards cloud storage are marketing hype, marketing hype, and more marketing hype. "Cloud" is the new "E-".

I had an application that had a cloud option and someone convinced the CEO he needed it. So we go through the hassle of migrating the data for it and first week out, the internet goes down for 3 days. Construction site cut some lines. So we got a redundant connection and have it fail over. Only the static IP is different now so the certificates need to be swapped out when it goes to the other internet source. Not a big deal.

I lost the account to someone who underbid me. A storm came through and dropped a tree on the side of the building, they had to relocate temporarily. I get a call asking me to help with this and of course I did so (while charging a premium). Creating new certificates and getting the app working was the first and easiest thing to do. One server with local data was damaged in the move. It took 2 days to get everything moved and wired and 26 terminals wired with about 10 hours being dedicated to restoring local data and binging up the damaged server. They were finally able to work again.

Both have advantages and disadvantages and both can be shown to be the best way. In the situation I described, outside of the 10 hours repairing a server, neither had a compelling advantage. If you have a reason- like it does what you want it to do, then use whatever fits that purpose. For me, the redundant internet connection and paying someone to transfer files is reason not to go cloud. Others might not mind.

Safer from what? Hackers? The NSA? I think yuo aer confusssed.

From data loss. No more "my computer died and now I lost 20 years of digital photos along with all the letters written to my now dead grandmother".

Re:most people never wanted local storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268367)

> then we'll HAVE to use gay "cloud" apps for everything,

li li lit li li lit little happy clouds

There is always thumb drives and SD cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267521)

To expand local storage on the chromebook, if that is what you want.

Re:There is always thumb drives and SD cards (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44269069)

SD cards are expensive relative to their capacity. Thumb drives are annoying because they stick out, so they're inconvenient if you're moving a lot.

Re:There is always thumb drives and SD cards (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44269191)

I've found that SD cards are available as cheaply as thumb drives, or even cheaper... but only slow ones

And yes, I am counting devices with lifetime or at minimum five year warranties only. I don't screw around. I've had too much flash go bad on me.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (2)

sirlark (1676276) | about a year ago | (#44268817)

I have to disagree. The two biggest reasons for a home PC in 80's and 90's were text document writing and gaming. In that order. Parents wanted the first, kids used the PC for the second. That a changed slightly with after the endless September, including two more uses: email and web browsing, again in that order. Tablets and phones etc STILL SUCK for writing documents. It's not just the lack of keyboard; the biggest issue is cutting and pasting. When my folks want to write a letter (yes an actual letter) to their local ward councillor, they go back to the laptop every time. Drafting a will, writing a letter to the paper/lawyer/bank/etc, printing out documents; These are all things that are still a regular enough occurrence to make having only a tablet infeasible. Tablets are fundamentally bad at facilitating text generation larger that a quick email, and as a society the written word is still enmeshed far too deeply with our lives for us to say that no one ever needs tow rite anything longer that a quick email.

Re:most people never wanted local storage (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44269185)

Tablets and phones etc STILL SUCK for writing documents. It's not just the lack of keyboard; the biggest issue is cutting and pasting.

You know, at least since gingerbread you can connect a mouse to an Android tablet, too. C&P is much easier then. No idea about iOS, don't care.

It was me. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266319)

OK, only about 100 of them, but a small blip. I'm wondering how many of these were sold to schools or for other mass consumption functions. As a school principal, I see that chromebooks--limitations and all--are still a much improved value over a $1200 windows laptop. (yes $1200 after the kid-proof warranty). I know i could roll my own, but I would rather bring back my librarian, nurse, music teacher, and instructional aides before hiring a sysadmin to make linux laptops go.

Chromebooks have all the "it just works" of a mac at 20% of the cost. They are tamper-proof out of the box and lightning fast for 99% of things that students use the computers for.

The only thing I think is a gaping limitation is the lack of IP printing without a middleman. It's kind of stupid that i need to have an XP machine running somewhere in order to print. Organizations looking to supplement their hardware options with chromebooks shouldn't need to buy special printers to go with them.

Re:It was me. (4, Interesting)

fiziko (97143) | about a year ago | (#44266603)

I'm a teacher who was about to say what s/he said. Our students already use Google Docs for their work, so these make a great, cost-effective fit that eliminates a lot of the educational environment security headaches.

FYI, we circumvent the printing issues by having students share documents with staff accounts when they are ready to submit. The staff can either print or mark and comment online through the existing format, depending on whether a printout is really needed. Doesn't scale well for large student loads, but it's enough for us.

Re:It was me. (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#44267661)

You don't really need a middleman to print; you could pay for a new printer instead. :P Some printers speak a protocol that lets a Chromebook print "directly" over the Internet.

Re:It was me. (2)

blackest_k (761565) | about a year ago | (#44267917)

There isn't really a need for special printers any printer will do, my printers are not directly supported but anything that can run the chrome browser , eg linux mint for example is capable of being a gateway for existing printers.

For my android devices they can use googles cloud printing service which routes to my netbook which hands the job over to my nas which has the physical printers.

It's a pretty good system to be fair as your unlikely to run into the unsupported printer problem. What you are actually asking for would be for a 100 / x number of chromebooks to be configured to use each individual printer.
Sounds like a lot of work to me even assuming you don't miss any.

 

Re:It was me. (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44268043)

The only thing I think is a gaping limitation is the lack of IP printing without a middleman. It's kind of stupid that i need to have an XP machine running somewhere in order to print. Organizations looking to supplement their hardware options with chromebooks shouldn't need to buy special printers to go with them.

Just buy a better printer. A lot of newer ones support practically every print protocol available - from de-facto lpr/lpd, IPP, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print (for Chromebooks, this is what you need), Bonjour, Windows, ...

Re:It was me. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44269173)

I can't find a "better printer" than my HPLJ2300DTN. All the new printers in the same price range have higher consumables costs and are less reliable. (and as well, I bought this one used, good luck beating that.) I'm willing to deal with needing a gateway for anyone unwilling to speak one of the several preexisting standard protocols or languages. (Seriously, it speaks like six versions of PCL and postscript, and it will do it via Appletalk/DDP, Appletalk/IP, IPX, or IP, including raw tcp, lpr... Why in the fuck (insert pic of picard) should I need a middleman to print to this printer from Android, let alone a Chromebook? Just because Google is too lame to support the services that literally everyone else supports?

I'm surprised that nobody has yet made a gateway which runs on your Android device which handles printing to an lpr queue in order to handle this pathetic omission by Google.

Re:It was me. (2)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year ago | (#44269431)

Needing to buy a better printer somewhat detracts from the Chromebook's "low price" appeal. Having to add £100 to the cost of a £350 purchase is no small thing.

Chromebook is the ultimate in MOMputing (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#44266325)

I have one, and it is pretty good for what it is. I think I am going to pass it down to my mother.
Just about no effort to admin the machine, fast enough, and simple.

Chromebook == Awesome (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266335)

Chromebook == Awesome

Bought my mom one when they first came out. A year later she accidentally stepped on it, ruining the power connector. They cheap enough that I just decided to buy her a new one. She logged in and all her stuff was just there. Completely seamless. And of course, I don't have to worry about her getting viruses.

I almost bought the new ARM Chromebook instead of a new Macbook Air, but I had to go with the Air and OS X so I could run examination software. Chromebooks definitely rock, though. I spend most of my day in terminal windows. I still use mutt for e-mail, and tin for reading newsgroups, when I'm not working or browsing the web. The ARM Chromebook is like a dream come true. I'm pi$$ed I was stifled by the man.

Why pay for one when... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266341)

...when Zimmerman gets acquitted, there will be rioting in Florida and you can kill some people and just steal one? I bought a plane ticket to Florida so I can chimp out with all of my buddies when that happens.

Re:Why pay for one when... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267487)

Do white people get to riot if he's found guilty?

But it IS self-serving (2, Interesting)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#44266377)

Chromebooks most certainly are self-serving products for Google. Just because they aren't selling on the same scale as Android doesn't make them charity devices.

To really use a Chromebook do you need to have a Google account? Yeah?

Will you be bombarded with ads? Sure?

Are the two complaints I just listed above huge bones of contention for Windows 8 & 8.1 (substituting Microsoft's online services for Google's)? YES.

So just because the Google version is "free" does that make it insanely great while a Windows machine is full of spyware? Not necessarily. A Chromebook running real Linux is nice, but a better-specced Windows notebook that also runs real Linux can be quite a bit nicer.

Re:But it IS self-serving (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44266571)

I don't think that anybody is arguing that Chromebooks aren't a self-serving product for Google, just that they are a popular-with-users self-serving product for Google.

As best I can tell, Google has diffused most of the serious-nerd hate by making it pretty trivial(not supported as in 'sure, we'll be happy to do customer support for your custom linux distro'; but supported as in 'there are official directions on how to bypass the Google-Blessed payload and boot your own') to turn them into quite competent(and very cheap) full linux machines if you don't like the 'chromebook' stuff, and the less serious end of the market (A) doesn't actually care all that much and (b) is choosing between multiple self-serving products, not between utopian products and self-serving products.

Microsoft can't kill off its legacy OSes overnight, so scoring a Win7 system isn't rocket science; but 8 and 8.1(doubly so for RT) make it abundantly clear that the Redomond Future is app stores, Microsoft accounts, and Skydrive integration. Over in Cupertino, your iOS device makes the app store and Apple Account Exciting and Mandatory!, while your OSX device starts at $1000(barring only the mini, which isn't portable and doesn't even come with pack-in peripherals, making it a questionable buy for consumers, though attractive for lab/kiosk type work) and makes it increasingly clear that anything outside the app store is a second class citizen. Plus, of course, be it Windows or OSX, probably a good half of the users are going to have Gmail open pretty much all the time anyway, so they aren't exactly shying away from Google even if they choose otherwise.

None of the major vendors give a damn about your desire(if you have one, and a good many people don't) to be free of the mothership, so it's understandable why Google's limited(but stalwartly idiot-proof) and crazy cheap offering would be popular.

Re:But it IS self-serving (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44266695)

Find me one product in any market that is not self serving.
Buy a dozen eggs, the farmer not only uses the money to feed the chickens, but his own children as well as buying new shoes and maybe some beer.
Its all self serving.

And your discussion of nice and nicer without reference to price is totally non-helpful.

The real problem that I see with chromebooks and the whole cloud storage issue is that the law basically says anything left un-accessed for 6months is abandoned, and fair game, and doesn't even require a warrant.

Re:But it IS self-serving (3, Informative)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year ago | (#44266941)

Will you be bombarded with ads? Sure?

nope?

if you never visit a google site, you'll never see a google ad on your chromebook. they don't insert ads at the OS level.

Re:But it IS self-serving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267395)

But they are still proving to be popular among other self-serving platforms.

Re:But it IS self-serving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268065)

Chromebooks most certainly are self-serving products for Google. Just because they aren't selling on the same scale as Android doesn't make them charity devices.

To really use a Chromebook do you need to have a Google account? Yeah?

Will you be bombarded with ads? Sure?

Are the two complaints I just listed above huge bones of contention for Windows 8 & 8.1 (substituting Microsoft's online services for Google's)? YES.

So just because the Google version is "free" does that make it insanely great while a Windows machine is full of spyware? Not necessarily. A Chromebook running real Linux is nice, but a better-specced Windows notebook that also runs real Linux can be quite a bit nicer.

Such stupidity. Is a Mac self serving? How about a Windows PC? And yet you have the stupidity to question if a Chromebook is self serving. One more thing, I can tell you've never used one. You may want to look into one before talking crap again.

Re:But it IS self-serving (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#44268123)

To really use any iDevice do you need to have a AppleID? Yeah?

Will you be bombarded with Apple merchandising? Sure?

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Re:But it IS self-serving (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year ago | (#44270697)

Odd...I'm writing this on a Chromebook Pixel and I've yet to experience of this ad bombardment that you refer to.

How big is the market? (3, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | about a year ago | (#44266379)

I've seen these percentages reported a lot of places, but I have yet to be able to find anything that lists actual sales numbers. Without knowing how big the market for sub-$300 PC market is, it's a meaningless measurement. For example, if 50 million sub-$300 PCs were sold, 25% is a really respectable number. If two million sub-$300 PCs were sold then the 500,000 total sales are quite disappointing.

Re:How big is the market? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266587)

Given how many people trample each other to death for the chance to get a $299 laptop from Walmart on Black Friday, I'd say it's pretty significant.

Re:How big is the market? (5, Informative)

Xenoproctologist (698865) | about a year ago | (#44266619)

Well, if you look at the article's source [bloomberg.com] , you get this gem:

Chromebooks still remain a small portion of the total U.S. market for laptops and netbooks. The devices had about 4 percent to 5 percent share in the first quarter, though that was up from 1 percent to 2 percent in 2012, according to Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

So, if the laptop market was ~33m units in Q1, that puts Chromebooks at ~1.5m for the quarter, which is the first thing approaching an actual number I've seen on Chromebook sales. Not sure how that spreads out between Samsung, Acer, and HP.

Re:How big is the market? (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44268809)

Still pretty solid numbers though, certainly nothing to be sniffed at. While overall it may be a small percentage of total laptop tales for a handful of individual models it's rather good. The year-on-year growth rate is also very strong.

Re:How big is the market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44269725)

And yet Windows tablets, which captured 7% of the tablet market their first quarter of availability are seen as a dismal failure by Slashdotters. Chromebooks can't manage that in 2 years for the shrinking PC market and its "nothing to sniff at".

Can't see much of a downside (3, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | about a year ago | (#44266385)

Linux-based Netbooks were killed by MS right when they were fixing to take off. Maybe this means we are finally to a point MS can't just kill off competitors easily any more.

Chrombooks don't make much sense to me...but it seems like a good thing that someone can launch something with a OS with a tiny market share, and it actually sell well enough to keep making them.

Re:Can't see much of a downside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268131)

...but it seems like a good thing that someone can launch something with a OS with a tiny market share, and it actually sell well enough to keep making them.

I'd like to visit this odd little world of yours where a billion smartphones constitutes "tiny".

Re:Can't see much of a downside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268805)

Here is what Google itself had to say about that:

Schmidt did say that while Android and Chrome would not merge, there would be more "commonality" between them, which doesn't rule out the possibility that Chrome OS may one day run Android apps.

Until Chrome can run Android apps...ITS NOT ANDROID. In fact, if Chrome could run the apps of a billion smartphones, I wouldn't call it tiny, either. As of now, it doesn't. In the real world, that makes it an odd little minority OS.

Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (2)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year ago | (#44266405)

They wouldn't do that, though. Would they?

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (3, Insightful)

James Carnley (789899) | about a year ago | (#44266453)

No, they wouldn't.

Killing Reader doesn't mean Google is shutting down all of their products. Reader is the only "important" project they've shut down and that's only because we are all nerds and used Reader constantly. Most people on the internet don't use RSS or even know what it is.

Chromebooks are one of the major pieces of Google's ecosystem. There's no way they will be shut down or neglected unless Google completely changes its business model. At that point we will have more to complain about than Google shutting down a few products.

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44266561)

Reader is the only "important" project they've shut down and that's only because we are all nerds and used Reader constantly. Most people on the internet don't use RSS or even know what it is.

What do most people on the Internet use to fulfill the use cases that RSS fulfills to nerds?

Re: Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44267033)

Facebook, twitter and tumblr

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about a year ago | (#44267229)

Bookmarks. They simply dont use RSS

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

dbraden (214956) | about a year ago | (#44267265)

What do most people on the Internet use to fulfill the use cases that RSS fulfills to nerds?

I'm inclined to think that most use nothing, or maybe bookmarks. Most probably just have a small number of sites they regularly visit.

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266699)

Killing Reader doesn't mean Google is shutting down all of their products.

Not this month or the next, they won't. In the future, you have no idea where their priorities will be. If someone had told you 2 years ago not to use Google Reader because it might be shut down, you'd have made the same post saying that they wouldn't do that. The truth is that none of us knows, not even Google can know what they'll do in the future.

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#44269393)

It's not like Reader was the only thing they've killed. They'll kill anything they deem to not be profitable or which gets in the way of something else, like Google+. It's not that far out to assume they'll, at some point, decide Chromebooks are redundant because of Android.

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

MSRedfox (1043112) | about a year ago | (#44266521)

Even if they shut it down (which I highly doubt), my Samsung ARM Chromebook runs Linux really well. So it might hurt the mom and pop users, but technically inclined people would be fine.

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44266663)

They wouldn't do that, though. Would they?

It would be hard to imagine why Google would 'pull the plug' on a device that exists pretty much entirely to give you cheap access to whatever products Google has on tap.

Now, you may or may not be happy to hear about the changes in product lineup available when you turn the thing on, and if they really stop selling well you can probably say goodbye to anything more than the same Chrome updates that mainline Linux gets; it it would take quite a shift for Google to kill something that is basically a web browser with their preferred defaults baked in.

Re:Sounds good until Google pulls the plug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267973)

Because most of them aren't made by google, They are made companies like Samsung and Acer, these companies will only continue to make them if the hardware is making them money, either that or google will have to heavily subsidize their existence.

Perfect 2nd Machine for Business Travelers (4, Interesting)

McGruber (1417641) | about a year ago | (#44266497)

I fly a lot for work --two roundtrips per month-- and have been carrying my Chromebook as a second machine, to supplement my corporate laptop. Being a corporate machine, I do not have admin rights to the laptop and my employer tells me they reserve the right to monitor what I'm doing with it, so I assume the laptop has spyware on it.

The Chromebook gets used for my personal stuff in the evenings, when I'm in my hotel room - I figure that my employer doesn't need to know what I'm buying/selling on ebay, nor do they need to know what political sites I read, nor do they need to know what stories I'm submitting to slashdot.... nor do they need to know that I prefer big breasted brunettes.

When flying, I almost always sit in tiny "economy class" seats - the chromebook works well in those seats. I can actually open it up and actually type on it while sitting on a plane, even tiny regional jets. I usually can't open my corporate notebook up on a plane because it is too big to fit between me and the seat in front of me.... and that's before the jerk in front of me reclines back into my space.

The Chromebook also came with a dozen free Gogo passes. Gogo passes were costing $14 each, if I remembered to buy them prior to my flight.... so the dozen free passes were worth $168 to me. All in all, I consider my $250 Samsung Chromebook was money very well spent.

Dozen Free Gogo Passes (1)

twmcneil (942300) | about a year ago | (#44267193)

So you got a dozen free Gogo passes and turned in the cost on your expense account anyway. Well played Sir, well played.

Seriously, the Gogo passes would really help. Thanks for sharing that one.

Re:Perfect 2nd Machine for Business Travelers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268265)

I figure that my employer doesn't need to know what I'm buying/selling on ebay, nor do they need to know what political sites I read, nor do they need to know what stories I'm submitting to slashdot.... nor do they need to know that I prefer big breasted brunettes.

And that's why you use a chromebook? Maybe your employer still doesn't know....but he may find out if your not a good patriot...

Sub-$300 notebook/netbook (3, Interesting)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44266507)

Chromebooks are about all that's left in this price range, aren't they?

I couple years ago I bought an Acer Aspire One with Win7 loaded on it, but if I walk into a big box store, I only see Samsungs and Acer C7s (which are just rebadged netbooks from a year ago).

U can get sub $300 netbooks on Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267527)

Also at Walmart.

Neighbor bought one (3, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | about a year ago | (#44266519)

He's definitely not a nerd, and just a windows guy.

He likes it, he says its nice and light, cool, and runs quite a long time on the battery. Most of what he does is just internet stuff so that works.

He cant print directly to his printer, but he can go through his windows PC. Mainly he sees it as a great travel laptop as if its taken he can recover via Google and its not a major financial loss. I think for those who have a desktop and need a capable yet inexpensive travel laptop, this will probably hit the mark.

Re:Neighbor bought one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267507)

He's definitely not a nerd, and just a windows guy.

He likes it, he says its nice and light, cool, and runs quite a long time on the battery. Most of what he does is just internet stuff so that works.

He cant print directly to his printer, but he can go through his windows PC. Mainly he sees it as a great travel laptop as if its taken he can recover via Google and its not a major financial loss. I think for those who have a desktop and need a capable yet inexpensive travel laptop, this will probably hit the mark.

Is it possible to setup your own server as "the cloud" for these devices?

I like mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266645)

The thing really redefines instant-on. It wakes up while the lid is being opened (Samsung Chromebook).

Oh, and I can surf the web too. It is vying for the coveted spot on my nightstand. :)

Chrome books are great. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44266693)

It is basically a iPad minus all the sexy touch screen things. Built on solid reliable technology using well understood tested input devices and formats. And more open too. No wonder it is growing. I am actually thinking of getting a second and a bluetooth keyboard+thumbwheel to serve as the streaming device for the home theater. It has HDMI out and works with Amazon videos, Netflix.

Re: Chrome books are great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267103)

Why... When you can get a roku, Apple TV, or similar for $100 or less?

Re: Chrome books are great. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44267257)

They have very limited user interface. Have you browsed for netflix title via Roku? And they all have very limited browser.Chromebook has local storage 320GB. More importantly I can run Apache in my home network and serve movies and photos from other machines. And I disconnect take it with me while traveling.

Patience (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year ago | (#44266897)

Much like MS can afford to introduce something that is a loss at first, Google can too.

They see a long term plan for these as more and more people move into the 'media consumption' arena, but still want an attached keyboard.

Personally i'm glad we have more ARM options.. i'm tired of x86.

Re:Patience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268271)

Google doesn't lose money on it, the goverment will pay for all the data it generates

Works OK (3, Interesting)

sk999 (846068) | about a year ago | (#44266927)

I picked up an Acer C7 to keep at a second office for occassional use. For what I do, Chrome OS doesn't cut it, so I installed the Chrubuntu distro in a separate partition. The only real complaint, I guess, is that the keyboard is cheap and doesn't have much "feel" to the keys. Lots of other minor complaints (Unity stinks, Gnome 3 stinks) but managed to work around them all. Wired ethernet and VGA connector for external display were used heavily (sorry Samsung, you don't have either - a big negative.) Biggest surprise was that the Celeron processor actually has decent performance.

Having said that, my intent was actually to see if Chrome OS could be tweaked so as to do all the things I need, and the chroot'ed version of Linux may be the way to go to get new software installed. A project for the future.

Re:Works OK (2)

hazem (472289) | about a year ago | (#44268347)

I have an Acer AO756, which has nearly identical specs as the C7, except it came with Windows 7 and not Chrome (and was therefore more expensive). However it was easy to just install whatever Linux on it I want.

Does the C7 not allow you to do that? Just wipe the drive (or install a different one) and put whatever you want?

Considering one for GF's mother... (1)

rthille (8526) | about a year ago | (#44266971)

She's got a windows box which is in bad shape. I've got two ChromeBoxs running Ubuntu.

The safe, quick-boot, always updated, easy to manage seems like it's perfect for the "only need the web and email" crowd.

much better than (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about a year ago | (#44267035)

It is a much better hardware match than windowZ ...

Tinker with an older EEEpc and it is obvious that WindowZ abuses the hardware budget. A tight linux distro and a darn quick browswe and Bob's your uncle.

Nothing magic about Chrome given the recent Firefox improvements.

Screw google (0)

ikhider (2837593) | about a year ago | (#44267627)

The motto of Google engineers was supposed to be 'don't be evil', but Google is an unwieldy monster that is putting Microsoft to shame. Android was supposed to be GNU/Linux based, but it is teaching the Windows OS a few things about DRM. Anyone for a machine that runs a free libre operating system?

Re:Screw google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268079)

Oh, shut up.

Re:Screw google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44268175)

Here you go [cyanogenmod.org] .

Or--this being Slashdot and all--go write your own, and STFU.

I use the hell out of my Cr-48 (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#44267691)

I was one of the lucky many who got a free Cr-48. I've used it pretty much every day since December 2010; as others have noted, it makes a wonderful second computer, or a "don't care" travel laptop, or something that your relative with a porn/click ALL THE LINKS habit can't break.

The '48 is crap for playing movies, though; anything more than 360p resolution is annoyingly choppy. Probably a non-Atom Chromebook would do just fine.

Our clients use them in the office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44267695)

I install Crouton to them and add a few packages and voila!.. they have a super lightweight netbook with Mac mouse gestures, SMB share support, office tools, and printer support. They actually have several iPads and iPad 2s and the Chromebooks get passed around like tablets. They are so much more versatile than the tablets. I'll be recommending them for these reasons.

Using it less and less (3, Informative)

Cobonobo (2981333) | about a year ago | (#44268373)

I bought a Samsung ARM Chromebook a few months back. While it's absolutely perfect for web browsing on its own and its battery performance is exemplary, I find myself using it less and less. It's not because I mislike the machine, nor is it that I cannot do the majority of my work in a browser, it's simply that I prefer to have separate applications for separate tasks. I now just use a netbook with Arch Linux instead. I still recommend the Chromebook openly, though. It's a fantastic device with excellent build quality for the price and, as a web browser, it's not to be beaten any time soon.

Not a huge surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44269029)

Given the rise of non-Windows tablets and non-Windows 'phones, it seems the great, unwashed masses may finally have realised they actually *don't have* to buy a Windows PC any more.

The old arguments about 'I've heard of Windows and Apple, but I haven't heard of this Linux thing' and 'If it doesn't run Windows, how do I buy software for it?' have been seen as irrelevant. Being aware of Android, average people now know they can exist and use a computer productively without involving MS/Windows or Apple.

And it's going to be cheaper and just as easy or even far easier to do so.

It's easy to grow from zero (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#44269417)

The growth doesn't mean anything. You can grow in a shrinking market if you're new. The idea of having to be on all the time and having google try to lock my data into their services which may or may not disappear or be the same any time in the future is not appealing to me. It's even less appealing to hand my data over to a company in bed with the NSA which it would appear Google are.

Lets not encourage Google, PRISM and more. (0)

RanceJustice (2028040) | about a year ago | (#44269619)

For those of us on Slashdot, we've seen Google sliding down the slope from "Don't Be Evil" and a single bar of text ads besides your email that pulled data exclusively from that particular email, to today's monstrous data mining, privacy obliteration machine. Its really frustrating because if it wasn't for this abhorrent behavior, Google services are otherwise high quality. Though there have been people who have seen the signs of the increasingly pathogenic information gathering for years, Snowden's information provides proof that one shouldn't even consider trusting Microsoft, Google, Apple and other major tech companies; in all cases they've been completely compromised by US Gov't agencies and/or or corporate interests.

With this in mind, why should it even be a discussion about a "cloud" comprised of and controlled by these monolithic entities. Yes, I gather that there are benefits for Chromebooks and/or cloud storage, but knowing what we know, is there really any question that it isn't worth continuing to feed the machine simply for a little more convenience? This doesn't mean we need to discount the user desires that drive people towards Chromebooks and the Cloud, but what about offering alternatives that fulfill many of these same convenience factors without giving approval to the abhorrent behavior of these corporations?

For instance, how about focusing on and enhancing technologies like OwnCloud, which is FOSS, can be hosted anywhere you choose, and gives access to many of those same convenience functions that drive people towards "The Cloud". I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to roll up a desktop Linux distribution that was designed from the start to sync with an OwnCloud (and similar technologies) instance to give the same "Chromebook" experience of sorts. FirefoxOS also appears promising and could easily mesh with OwnCloud and other technologies.

The issues facing our privacy today, assaulted by moneyed private interests and government overreach alike, may seem insurmountable, but we can make a stand and resist. I'm pragmatic enough to know that it isn't feasible to ask Joe User to act like a cypherpunk, but there are technologies that are increasingly user friendly that can both protect a user's privacy and have access to the ease of use they crave. If a significant part of the population started rebuking the use of these privacy invading technologies, it would start to "hit them where it hurts" - in the wallet. Imagine if Xbox One sales were way below normal projection, with letters from potential users citing the Microsoft's kowtowing to the NSA and data miners alike as a reason they refuse to put a always-on camera in their home. Imagine if businesses gave up using services from Microsoft and Google because of the privacy implications? If there was a major downturn in search and application use in the face of users changing their behavior? If encryption was applied by even a relatively small percentage of the general public? Though these changes won't be enough by themselves to stop the financial/corporate/government overreach, they'll at least show people are paying attention - something that right now, is still in question. As long as those in power can frame the debate on their own terms and see that the populace is willing to continually accept these increasing breaches of privacy, liberty, and the common good, nothing will change.

Refusing to buy a Chromebook is a small act of protest, but these everyday decisions made by millions of Americans (and those the world over) add up. Lets not encourage complacency and ignorance.

the timeline (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44270071)

2011 - netbooks sell like crazy
2012 - people realize netbooks are unusably slow, have too small of a screen, and have double the failure rate of laptops plus no shops will fix them
2013 - people buy Chromebooks and tablets
2014 - people realize they can't run any useful software on a Chromebook and it's a single-use style device that lives in its own little fairy magic land and stop using it. They also realize that you can't type on tablets so they're useless for almost everything.
2015 - Microsoft realizes they fucked up and releases an actually good Windows 9 and everyone buys PCs
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