When Google launched the first Chromebook in 2011 running Google Chrome OS, the questions on most people's minds were why and how; why would anyone want to use a browser as their operating system and how on earth is it going to work out. Fast forward to 2013, the situation has changed a lot. While the first Chromebook Cr-48 was manufactured only by Samsung, now HP, Lenovo and Acer have jumped in the fray and have launched their Chromebooks which are typically in the range of $200-$350.
How it works?
|Image credit: Labnol|
Google markets Chromebook as a notebook that boots in seconds, always runs the latest version of the OS and is inexpensive; all three things users expect from a Windows laptop! But all good things come with a catch - in the case of the Chromebook it is the availability of an Internet connection pretty much all the time. Basically the Chrome OS is just the Chrome browser made to run on a laptop on its own and deal with the work done by a typical OS. So typically a user would be accessing their mails, documents, movies, music,etc over the cloud through the browser. In case of Google services like GMail, Google Drive, Google Docs,etc there are apps available on the Chrome app store. They are pretty much the same as accessing through a URL except that some features like document editing, viewing files on Google Drive will be made available offline. Changes made to the files are stored locally and then synced when the user connects to Internet.
Not that bad an OS after all
So the question is will users take the big leap of faith and buy a Chromebook. The answer seems to be Yes. Acer reported brisk sales of Chromebooks and the top selling computer on Amazon during the holiday season was Chromebooks! Surprised? yeah me too. But when you think about it, it actually makes sense to spend $200 for a laptop that can do pretty much what a tablet can do, but with a keyboard and a bigger screen. Chromebook's target audience are people looking for a spare computer, schools in developing countries which cannot purchase expensive PCs and first time users. The fact that the Chrome OS is just a browser with a single search cum navigation bar means it doesn't get any simpler than this.
Google Drive - More than just storage
Like all great ideas which make a debut before their time sound crazy, the thought of using a browser as an OS sounded ridiculous way back in 2011 but it doesn't sound so weird now. Google has always taken bold risks by venturing in new areas and the Chrome OS is just another milestone for the Internet giant. Will the Chromebook become mainstream this year? We will just have to wait and watch!
Disclaimer: All ideas, thoughts or reviews published in this blog are my personal opinion and not that of my employer (Samsung).