By this summer, Google and Intel will have 20 Chromebooks on the market including touch-screen versions and at least one tablet convertible, executives say.
And nearly all of them will be priced under $US350.
Microsoft should be getting nervous indeed.
In a press conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, executives shared some updated statistics on how well Chromebooks are doing.
While Google doesn’t give sales figures on Chromebooks — it doesn’t make any money on them because it gives away the operating system for free — Chromebook VP Caesar Sengupta and Intel mobile group VP Navin Shenoy offered these tidbits:
1. 7 out of the top 20 highest-rated laptops on Amazon are Chromebooks.
“The Acer C720p is the highest-rated laptop on Amazon. It costs $US199 and has 4.4 stars from over 1,000 users. Read the comments. People are using it and loving it,” he said, asking when was the last time a device was “the most affordable and the highest rated?”
3. Nearly 10,000 schools have bought Chromebooks, up from 5,000 in September, Sengupta said.
4. Google updates the Chrome operating system every six weeks. “Every Chromebook keeps getting better over time.” (We need to point out: We’ll see how long that lasts. As hardware changes, there will likely come a point where older devices can no longer be upgraded.)
5. You can view Microsoft office files online and offline “and you don’t have to pay for it,” Sengupta says. (That’s true to a point. Google Docs will work with Office documents, as will Microsoft’s freebie version of Office available through its cloud, OneDrive. But the full-featured version of Office doesn’t work on Chrome OS.)
6. An Internet connection is increasingly not needed. One big criticism of Chromebooks is that they need an Internet connection for most apps. But Google will soon allow you to view TV and movies offline in addition to working on documents offline.
7. Google Now, Google’s answer to Siri and Microsoft Cortana, is coming to Chromebooks, too. (Yes, a voice-controlled computer.)
8. More Windows 8 devices are being rejiggered to run Chrome OS. Intel has designed its own Chromebook that uses things like a swiveling camera. It won’t manufacturer this device, but smaller PC makers can use this design. It is the same design it did for a Windows 8 PC, Shenoy says. Likewise, Lenovo is making a swivel Chromebook Yoga convertable tablet, the same design as the Windows 8 Yoga.
9. Intel is using Chromebooks to help fight human slavery. Intel has spent years coming up with what it calls a “conflict-free” microprocessor, ones that use no minerals from slave labour mines in the Congo.
The new crop of Intel-powered Chromebooks coming this summer will be the first to use these conflict-free chips. So if you are a socially conscious consumer, you can feel good about buying a Chromebook for that reason.
Clearly Intel is playing up its partnership with Google as PC sales tank. “We will embrace multiple operating systems. We have been involved with Google from day 1 on Chrome OS,” Shenoy said.
Microsoft does seem to be taking notice.
Its marketing campaigns have been targeting Google’s Chromebooks. And on the same day as the Google/Intel press conference, Microsoft held a one-day sale of an Asus Touch PC For $US199.
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