More Chromebooks emerge online, but Google's OS still lags

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U.S. web usage for Google's Chrome OS has risen 700 percent since last summer but that still pegs the revolutionary cloud OS on less than 0.1 percent of traffic, according to ad network Chitika.

The measurement was based on ad impressions recorded for the platform between a fairly narrow window of January 12 through 18, and only for the U.S.

This showed that Chrome OS machines accounted for 0.07 percent of web traffic, a number not far short of the 0.08 percent recorded for Sony's PlayStation but above the 0.02 percent for Nintendo's Wii.

Apart from the short measurement window, and the fact that cheap Chromebooks from Samsung and Acer have only been on the market for a handful of months, it is also impossible to know how representative numbers from a single ad network can be.

Chrome OS early adopters—including specialized users such as developers—could also be using browser plug-ins such as Ghostery that block the tracking of ad systems, causing some underestimation of the figures.

The numbers are incredibly small but the Chromebook is a consumer product in a market in which a large percentage of sales go to businesses. (See also "How I survived 7 days in Chromebook exile.")

More systems appear

There are also a tiny number of machines available from Samsung's Chromebook, to Acer's C7 and the more recent and intriguingly expensive Pixel. Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are reported to be planning their own products as vendors experiment with a totally new computing platform.

It might not sound like it has a huge following but with stories of the PC's market's relative decline a theme of the moment, Samsung and Acer's Chromebooks became the best-selling laptops on Amazon US and UK over the Christmas period.

The Samsung model remains the top-selling laptop on Amazon in both countries nearly five months after its launch.

The Pixel in particular has its admirers, starting with Linux creator, Linus Torvalds.

"I've joined all the cool kids in having one of the new Google 'Pixel' laptops," he posted, enthusing over the machine's incredible screen. This being Torvalds, he quickly qualifiies his interest in the OS itself.

"But I expect to install a real distro on this soon enough. For a laptop to be useful to me, I need to not just read and write email, I need to be able to do compiles, have my own git repositories etc.," Torvalds added, offering faint praise and damnation rolled into one.

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