Google’s Chromebook: has it failed?

Google Chromebook
Image: slgckgc CC-BY

Google’s Chromebook was supposed to be a hit for the search giant: a low specification, reliable, portable computer based entirely on the company’s cloud operating system ChromiumOS, and using Google Docs accessed through the Chrome web browser. Yet estimates are that Acer has sold only 5,000 Chromebooks since their launch last year. Samsung, ITPro says, has sold even less.

ITPro presents an interesting analysis of the Chromebook’s failure with businesses: the need to be constantly Internet-connected, they say, is a significant drawback. And while companies are keen to invest in cloud infrastructure, Google Docs still has extremely limited functionality compared to office suites such as Microsoft Office and LibreOffice. Many companies make use of specialist or custom software, but this is often designed for Windows and will not run on Chromium. Price is also a problem: for the same price as a Chromebook users are able to buy netbooks – low powered laptop computer which – critically for businesses – often run Windows.

The potential success or failure of the Google Chromebook could make an interesting case study for am ITGS lesson. Students could examine the specifications of the computer (Strand 3 sections 3.1 and 3.2), benefits and drawbacks of cloud computing (sections 3.3 and 3.4), and then apply this understanding to a variety of scenarios, including Business and Employment, Home and Leisure, and Education and Training. It could also be compared with other low cost, low specification computers such as Intel’s Classmate and even the OLPC, which has typically been deployed in developing countries.

Source: ITPro article

Questions

Google originally targeted the Chromebook towards schools, saying it could help them implement one laptop-per-student (1-1) schemes. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages to schools of using Chromebooks in place of traditional computers or laptops. [8 marks]

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