Chromebook: stop calling it a laptop

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Google is so pleased with themselves. They’re seeing success with the recent Chromebook releases. Which made sense, in some form, when it was a few hundred dollars and had an impressive screen and physical design. But the Chromebook Pixel, which starts at $1,299 and goes upwards of $1,599, looks to many people browsing store shelves like a full blown “laptop.”

I will be the first to admit that over 80% of what I do on my computer is within my browser, these days. We live our lives on the World Wide Web, even if we don’t call it that anymore. Email is in the browser, Netflix is in the browser, Facebook, all of our news websites, even the tool I’m using to write this blog (and obviously how you’ll read it!) is all in a browser. Kudos to Google for identifying this. But for those other things? We need computers. Real ones. Not just browsers, or environments that look like Windows but are little more than a browser, like Google’s ChromeOS.

Google can pat themselves on the back all they want, but Google isn’t getting phone calls every day asking them “how do I install Quickbooks on this thing?” They would, except Google has gotten into the market of selling things without support. This was fine when everything was free. So what if GMail is down? It’s free! Or, it’s in beta! These were Google’s favorite defenses. But now they’ve achieved widespread use. They need to offer support. They need to hear the complaints their customers have, because right now, they’re marching onward so damn proud of their Chromebook sales. Meanwhile, every person I’ve met with a Chromebook so far? I’ve successfully talked them in to returning it to the store.

What do you mean I can’t install Word?. Well, Google offers Google Docs! It’s free! And it looks kind of like Word! But no, you can’t install the program you’re used to. And if your internet ever goes out, your productivity literally, not figuratively, just dropped to zero.

Google still lives in a Google world. Where everyone is a geek, who loves the idea of Google Buzz. Google forgets that there are still non-technical users out there. The people drawn to the iPhone? Are the same people who ask me why Word didn’t come with their new Windows computer. They don’t understand that Word 2007 and Windows 7 are different products. They don’t understand why they have to pay for Office 2011 on their new Mac if they want Outlook installed. They don’t understand that a Chromebook isn’t a computer, it’s a browser. And the people who pay over a thousand dollars? Are expecting a hell of a lot more than a browser.

Maybe I haven’t seen the right use case or product review, but I think the Chromebook, especially the Chromebook Pixel, is a waste of money.

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