Chromebooks: Not Flops!

It's been exactly one month since the first Chromebooks - netbooks powered by Google's Chrome OS -- became available for purchase, and so far, sales seem to be holding up.

Over at CNet, Brooke Crothers checked Amazon's list of best-selling laptops, and found the number four spot occupied by Acer's 11.6-inch, $349 Chromebook. (It's in fifth place as I type). Only Apple's MacBook Pro and a pair of Toshiba laptops ranked higher. Samsung's Series 5, a 12.1-inch Chromebook with built-in 3G service for $499, is ranked tenth.

Amazon's sales charts don't necessarily signify that Chromebooks are a hit. There are lots of other places to buy laptops, and PC makers tend to sell many different models, reducing the chances that any particular one will dominate. But the chart does at least prove that Chromebooks aren't a failure. People are actually buying them.

That wasn't a guarantee. Chrome OS is little more than a web browser, and Chromebooks generally are more expensive than netbooks, despite having no support for installed software and hardly any local storage.

And yet, for a significant number of Amazon customers, that's okay. What Chromebooks lack in tech specs, they make up for with big trackpads, solid keyboards, slim designs, and long battery life. Increasingly, those attributes are becoming more important than raw performance, especially when all you're doing is browsing the Web.

Still, I'd like to see Google take the concept further with built-in online storage that could integrate into the browser just like a local hard drive. Either way, Chrome OS is interesting to me, and seems worthy of further exploration both by Google and hardware makers. Strong sales are a good way to ensure that'll happen.

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