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back to article Why 2014 might just be the year of the Google Chromebook

Can Google’s Chromebook become the laptop platform of choice during 2014? Probably not, but there’s certainly demand for it. According to US market-watcher NPD, during the 11 months from January through November 2013, the platform’s share of the computing device market had risen to 9.6 per cent from just 0.2 per cent in the same …

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Happy

"Netbooks done properly: Cheap, the right size and without Windows"

So, like they were meant to be then? Before some idiot turned them all into small laptops? My cup runneth over.

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And if they are really getting 10% of the market...

...the software makers might start coming on board too - which won't do any harm.

All we need now is a few Chromebooks at a couple of hundred quid with a better screen than 1366x768.

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PJI
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Re: And if they are really getting 10% of the market...

>> but really other than photo editing and a somewhat longer battery life, the little Samsung isn't inferior to the Macbook Air.

Photo editing is quite a big thing for many people. The MBA is a fully fledged, reasonably powerful computer that can be used for photo editing, code development, games, word processing, without regard to overly restricted disc space and, critically, without any network connection. If your usage is just for simple documents, email and web browsing, you should be happy with a tablet or one of the better "smart phones". Comparing the MBA with a chromebook is like comparing chalk and cheese.

A Chromebook is a network device and a fairly tightly controlled one at that. Without a half decent network connection it is barely useful and its portability and useability outside urban areas (and outside buildings with free wifi) are compromised. I expect they have improved; but just last year I discovered one could not even install Skype. I see no practical advantage, except perhaps price, over a decent tablet or low end windows laptop or, considering the sheer prettiness, portability, performance and battery life, of something like the iPad Air or latest Nexus.

Then again, do you want to be dependent upon, say, Google+ to do anything? There seem to be a few screams about the new MS Office model where it is "cloud" hosted in return for the licence fee instead of having a local installation. Why is a Chromebook viewed any differently, where almost everything is "cloud" based?

Of course, my comments about the MBA are just as valid for any other full computer, whether windows or Linux or OS X.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And if they are really getting 10% of the market...

"If your usage is just for simple documents, email and web browsing, you should be happy with a tablet or one of the better "smart phones". "

I have a tablet (well, two actually), I have several smartphones, and none of them are nearly as good at document editing or email as a small laptop with a proper keyboard. I haven't tried the latest Asus Transformer, which has a proper keyboard, but I think it's around £5-600. The Surface RT with a very poor keyboard is currently £309 and is out of stock on the Microsoft web store. The iPads,without keyboards, are £249 and up.

So no, I'm not happy using any of them for that and they cost more.

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Re: And if they are really getting 10% of the market...

"A Chromebook is a network device and a fairly tightly controlled one at that. Without a half decent network connection it is barely useful"

Until you put your favorite version of Linux on it.

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Makes Grim reading For MS Beancounters

Good luck to Ballmer's replacement, they're going to need it.

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Re: Makes Grim reading For MS Beancounters

Maybe they'll going to need to decouple Office and Visual Studio + the runtimes from it's dependency on Windows to survive. This will be a good thing for those of us who prefer to avoid Windows but like Microsoft's dev environment.

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Unhappy

Don't think so.

"Netbooks were arguably killed off by tablets..."

More likely netbooks were killed off by Microsoft.

Which were seen by them as a threat to their Windows empire.

I stlll use an Asus eee701 running Linux which was as you put it " Cheap, the right size and without Windows"

Then along comes MS using its muscle and a loss leader in WinXP and all of a sudden netbooks became large, bloated and more expensive.

MS had effectively killed off netbooks before the rise of the tablet.

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+1 for the Eee 701SD :-)

My 701 is humming away contentedly on the desk here - it's a great little machine, and has never had any MS Windows variant anywhere near its SSD. (Arch Linux since 2011 - IMO, the perfect distro for rolling your own lean and fast system. Even WinXP will barely get out of bed on this little fella, but with Arch it fairly zips along.)

Funny how the 701 was slagged off for being "too small" (hence a large part of its appeal to me - fits on a FGW train "tray-table" when few other machines would), but 7" tablets are now everwhere...

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Re: Don't think so.

Nah, wimpy single core CPUs, slow SSD/HDDs and highly inadequate 600 pixel depth screens was more of a hindrance.

Parts bin specials for clearing out old tech.

People say MS limited the spec but remember the first ones launched by surprise from Intel/Acer/Asus with Linux installed and the hardware spec didn't radically change much from then on when Windows appeared on them several months later.

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Re: +1 for the Eee 701SD :-)

They are a tough little unit ..I run mine on the bench PSU with the battery removed, find it helps with the lifespan of the battery. ...as said Lubuntu boots in seconds on it as does Puppy Linux from the SD card..

Will definitely weep when I finally kill it ... ;)

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Re: Don't think so.

Netbooks were killed by greed. Asus, HP et al saw ultrabooks and tablets coming along and used them as an excuse to kill the format. Why bother making a netbook on thin margins when you can charge an arm and a leg for something filling essentially the same purpose?

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Re: +1 for the Eee 701SD :-)

My 701 4G just keeps on going, and has been my main machine since 2008 - it runs even better now I've doubled the RAM, too. Bodhi Linux FTW! (and TLP for power management: http://linrunner.de/en/tlp/tlp.html)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't think so.

"Asus, HP et al saw ultrabooks coming along"

No, sorry, never seen one in real life, though I have occasionally read about them. Are they extinct or something?

ps

Ultrabook is a trademark of Intel. Please don't forget:

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/trademarks/ultrabook.html

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Happy

Re: +1 for the Eee 701SD :-)

I have an Eee 901SD and it's running MINT 13 MATE quite nicely if a little sluggish sometimes. I know many of you are now shouting at me but it has exactly the same software as my desktop PC and my laptop, same GUI setup etc. Having said that I didn't bother installing Blender or any screen video recording software.

It prints, it scans, it browses over WiFi, it runs Gigolo and Insync and Dropbox all at the same time and Thunderbird works fine, so I'm very happy with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't think so.

You and many other may have been happy with Linux. However the average user was used to Windows and that was what they wanted.

The "Microsoft killed them" argument is just a case of "A Big Boy did it an ran away"

Until Linux gives the punters the applications they know and are used to it is dead and buried on the Desktop/Laptop.

NOT applications that may be as good. But the the same applications

2014 will not be "The Year of Linux on the Desktop"

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Re: Don't think so.

> Nah, wimpy single core CPUs, slow SSD/HDDs and highly inadequate 600 pixel depth screens was more of a hindrance.

OK, so not the Asus, my netbook is an HP2133, so a rather better screen than most laptops have, if not quite the 2560x1600 sort of screen of a modern tablet.

As to the slow CPU and disk, you've missed the whole point. Netbooks aren't small full function PCs, they're useful in their own right and sure beat dragging my quad core mobile workstation down to the coffee shop to glance at a few emails and surf a bit of web. They pre-dated the iPad, so many people who just wanted that sort of functionality have gone tablet. Those of use who wanted the easy input of the keyboard still like netbooks. But it isn't a replacement for my laptop.

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Re: Don't think so.

Yes but you expect it to be slow because you know how the spec will respond.

But I got fed up with Joe Public bringing their netbooks to me asking..."Its really slow...can you make it faster!"

To which the reply was usually "Well your netbook is slow...because its slow!"

Like a Morris Minor owner asking why his car gets pulled over on the Autobahn.

They didn't want me to slap in another 2GB of ram and a SSD, because they paid next to nothing for it so what was the point. Plus it often meant near complete disassembly to get anywhere.

Had they brought me a laptop from 2006/7 I could do something with that. Slap in another GB or two and swap out the old single core Celeron for a £10 Ebay C2D. Bingo, good for a few more years.

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Re: Don't think so.

I think the problem was the people who expected desktop or high-end laptop performance from a netbook.

I use mine (Aspire One) for general stuff that doesn't need too much CPU grunt. I'd love to be able to refresh the form factor with a new CPU, given that five years is a long time in computing. Anyone want to produce a motherboard with a newer Atom CPU to replace the one I've got?

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Re: Don't think so.

> The "Microsoft killed them" argument is just a case of "A Big Boy did it an ran away"

Yes they did. They used 'loyalty discounts', and revived XP to force their OEMs to offer XP netbooks _only_. If the OEMs could have offered XP _or_ Linux then the outcome may have been different. As it was XP required larger disks, so HDs were installed, more CPU, more RAM, and this priced them the same as small laptops.

Netbooks were intended to be cheap with DVD player screens, SD 'disks'.

> 2014 will not be "The Year of Linux on the Desktop"

2014 won't be _anyone's_ year on the desktop. It will be Linux's 'Year on the Personal Compters', again, where these are the more personal smartphones and tablets. Not just with Android, but with FirefoxOS, Tizen, Sailfish, Ubuntu and others.

> Until Linux gives the punters the applications they know and are used to

What most users are 'used to' is Firefox, Chrome, and Android apps (and iOS apps). You may want to only use Windows, Office, Photoshop and Visual Studio and no one will stop you doing that.

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Re: Don't think so.

@nematoad - The same old bollox about MS killing netbooks. It was the netbook manufacturers who pleaded with MS to give them "loss leader XP" because they couldn't make any money selling netbooks with Linux on them.

If there was a market for linux based netbooks, chinese factories would have been churning them out, just as they are currently churning out no-name android tablets. They didn't churn out linux-based netbooks because the market just didn't exist.

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Re: Don't think so.

@Al Jones : "They didn't churn out linux-based netbooks because the market just didn't exist."

May well have been true back then. Very few folk back then acknowledged that there was a possibility of life outside the Window box.

Times change. Lots of people now realise they can do what they need to do without needing a Wintel box.

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Linux

Re: Don't think so.

Agreed. Still get 3+ hrs out of my eee701, running Mint 9 smoothly, banging out reports and stories, cruising the net and watching movies off a USB drive. Real keyboard, stereo sound, instant On (with Suspend). And the size of a paperback. What's a tablet? ;-p

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Linux

Re: Don't think so.

"Until Linux gives the punters the applications they know... "

You don't get it. Linux is NOT a company, it's only a name. Linux does not have to do anything. Whether you use it or not doesn't matter. It's free, it works beautifully, has a friendly, helpful community of intelligent people to ask for guidance.

Or do it the other way. Your choice.

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They are selling better because Joe Average has no clue what it is and it is cheapo.

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If that were true

then people would be returning them in droves. (Maybe they are, but you'd have to post some figures to back up your assertion.)

Read the Amazon reviews for the Samsung Chromebook--people know what it is and what it does, and they generally seem satisfied with it. They're very useful machines for a certain market segment, even if they're of no use to you.

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File under "People making buying decisions I don't like"

So if Joe Average had a clue, what would he buy?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If that were true

As opposed to Linux Netbooks which people DID return in droves.

Waiting to get downvoted since it's forbidden to criticise Linux on the pages of El Reg

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@ Stumpy

Brilliantly put: "They're very useful machines for a certain market segment, even if they're of no use to you."

That being said, everybody wants to get in on a good thing. A certain percentage of the consumer market shows an interest in something and then the industry assumes that 100% of the market wants it. As much as I hate to admit this, I'd be interested in something that could provide the same look and feel to what I'm used to, for the uses I have... Privacy issues aside.

I'm still not sold on the whole "the cloud is the answer to everything" argument, because outages happen, shit breaks and I can't say I'm overly thrilled with my data floating around on a server managed by someone I don't know or know how many people actually have administrative access to it.

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Still using my first gen Asus eee 701 on lubuntu., have played with the new pads n pods...better specs maybe but bogged down with more baggage.. its all smoke and mirrors... :)

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I have a chromebook

Luckily I got one with 3G in as well. This is a great little machine and does everything I want it to, the only thing it doesn't do so far is run windows programs. Have I missed that? no not at all, I do not use it for work so Google Docs etc do all I need, add to that the fact that I dont have to constantly install security fixes, virus updates etc etc and its a perfect machine for a non techy as well. I can see a lot of these being sold to older people as it does browsing, email etc which for many of them is everything they want.

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Re: I have a chromebook

>I can see a lot of these being sold to older people as it does browsing, email etc which for many of them is everything they want.

I think Big_Ted has hit the nail on the head.

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Re: I have a chromebook

Does it have a good (offline) version of patience or other card games?

If so then it might be exactly what my dad is after.

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Re: I have a chromebook

"I dont have to constantly install security fixes, virus updates etc etc" until they get the market share and get targeted.

Much like Apple used to tout that they didn't get viruses, then they became popular enough.

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WTF?

Re: I have a chromebook

Why do you have to be 'offline'? Your Dad isnt one of those old codgers that still switch their router off when they are not using it?

Like those that only have their mobile on when they need to call you. You know who they are.

Offline happens maybe a twice a year to me.

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PJI
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Re: I have a chromebook

>>Why do you have to be 'offline'? Your Dad …

So, your personal usage model and fear of being non-existent because you can not be contacted must be the right one for everyone else? Was it Pascal who put forward the idea that things only exist if you can see them? Better keep permanently connected and Lord help you if you go out of WAN range.

You top off this arrogant ignorance with gratuitous denigration of anyone old enough to be "your Dad", presumably including most of the greatest IT innovators. Actually, a standard piece of security advice for those educated enough to understand is: turn off your private router if not using it. So such old codgers may be cleverer than you.

I expect you leave all the services on your mobile on as well, so you can pull down the latest tweet or email and flatten your battery even when in no position or necessity to use the device. Do you leave the car engine running just in case you want to drive off quickly, because you can?

One day, you will be "an old codger", not too far off now judging by your attitude. Bear in mind that, according to the demographics scaremongers, the old codgers of both sexes are becoming the majority, including in IT.

I expect you leave all the services on your mobile on as well, so you can pull down the latest tweet or email and flatten your battery even when in no position or necessity to read it. Do you leave the car engine running just in case you want to drive off quickly, because you can?

I seem to be somewhere between old codger and Grumpy Old Man stage. Great.

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Re: I have a chromebook

I think I touched a nerve there! Sit down and drink your Horlicks!

Are your kids sticking labels on your stuff already then?

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Re: I have a chromebook

"Why do you have to be 'offline'? Your Dad isnt one of those old codgers that still switch their router off when they are not using it?

Like those that only have their mobile on when they need to call you. You know who they are.

Offline happens maybe a twice a year to me.

I can't imagine why anyone would ever pass up the opportunity for a call from such a charmer and I hope you let your acquaintances know that the internet disapproves of them missing out.

My dad doesn't switch his router off but he does get out and about more than twice a year and while the beaches and countryside in his part of the world have many tremendous attributes, internet connectivity is not one of them so if he wants to take along a lightweight computing device to augment his leisure activities it will have to be able to provide some services offline.

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Need to replace my trusty Samsung N110 netbook, since it's taken so much abuse the hinge has now cracked, and a Chromebook may fit the bill. I like the small form factor and I don't need the power of a more up market laptop, since I run Linux and find that even doing Java development in NetBeans is acceptable on the N110. What I would need though is the ability to replace the Chrome OS with regular Linux, and possibly put a larger SSD into the machine. Trouble is, none of the reviews I've seen of Chromebooks talk about upgradability, presumably because these machines are so cheap that they're almost considered as disposable as mobile phones.

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The latest Acer chromebook has 2gb of ram solidered onto the motherboard so that can't be upgraded. Lots of chromebooks are also using emmc rather than 2.5" ssd and I have no idea how upgradeable they are.

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Storage, Storage and more storage

No all of us lives in an 'always connected' world. I only have to go to my local park and there is naff all mobile signal apart from one bar on Three. EE? nach, O2? Nope, Voda? no chance.

given the lack of storage on these devices they are totally unsuitable for me unless I can have at least 128Gb.

nice design concept but frankly Google's latest farcical change to Gmail/Goolgle+ has made me wary of getting into bed with them any more than I can.

If I were to buy one of the devices then I'd wipe the supplied software and load a linux (not Ubuntu) onto it.

However, my old EEEbook is still going strong so I really don't feel the need to give into the 'shiny-shiny' and ditch it on for one of these.

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Re: Storage, Storage and more storage

You aren't the target consumer.

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Re: Storage, Storage and more storage

So buy a few SD cards of an external drive.

There sorted it for you.

Or buy a laptop with no connection in the park still....

Oh and why are you taking a laptop to the park ? why not use it in the garden etc etc....

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Happy

Re: Oh and why are you taking a laptop to the park ?

Because there are more pretty girls to look at in the park?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Storage, Storage and more storage

"You aren't the target consumer."

No, your data is the target.

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Happy

Appologies to all the ladies who read the Register

In the interests of balance

Because there are more pretty boys to look at in the park?

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Re: Oh and why are you taking a laptop to the park ?

So if there are pretty girls (or boys) to look at in the park, why take the laptop?

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It's weird how Chromebooks getting a sub 10% market share means Windows is dead but WP8 getting a 10% market share means WP is doomed.

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Agendas. That is all.

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