Chromebooks = Laptop Killers?

Let’s start with the reality…

If your primary job function involves working through long complex strings of Visual Basic or C++ code or producing hours of online video with world class effects feel free to jump out of this post now … Google’s release of the new ChromeBook may not be that critical to you.  Even the Google folks admit that there are some things that need to be done on your PC or Mac.

For the rest of us…especially those of us focusing on marketing, sales and education the release of the Chromebook may be another critical move toward the “in the cloud” business model we have held out there for so long.  If you missed the release check out this video.



So what makes the Chromebook any different than an iPad? After all, doesn’t an iPad run on apps?  Can’t you drop your iPad in the river and start all over again with your data?

Sure you can.  But can you leave it at home?  With the Google Chromebook, your entire computer is replicated on any Google chrome browser once you sign in with your Google account.  Need to run an app from your Chromebook but you left it at home?  No problem, you can hop on a traditional PC, launch chrome from the desktop and pick up where you left off.  No additional app installs, no cross-platform compatibility issues.

Again, a video explanation from Google:

In my opinion this is where Chromebook will win fans.  On the surface it is a cloud-based computer, you can boot it up in 8 seconds and do your work online (as long as you have a connection, of course).  You can leverage cool tools like Jolicloud to make your desktop look more “desktop” like and you can use third party cloud services like box.net and Dropbox as your native “drives” for uploading and downloading images & files through Google’s new API for Chrome users (and did you notice that it also allows you to attach a USB – a big win in my book).

More important to me as a person who manages infrastructure for a few hundred mobile professionals – Google isn’t hell bent to “fight the power” in Redmond.  Sure they want to see Microsoft fail when it comes to the cloud and search, but when it comes to the areas Google can’t touch – the old LAN/WAN nonsense of the late 1990s … they’re willing to play along.  Need an example … check out Google Cloud Print.  Launched in Beta in January, Cloud Print allows users on a Chrome or Android 2x device to send their print job to any printer connected to a Windows PC running the complementary Chrome extension.  Now all that hardware in your office can serve a purpose … which in today’s CapEx climate is a huge plus.  By comparison…Apple’s AirPrint service allows for cloud printing…to one of 17 supported devices available for sale.

Some of the contrary opinion I have read this week about Chromebook has to do with enterprise applications (like large CRM systems), local file management and ease-of-use.  Since I haven’t touched one at this point (they don’t release until June 15) I will have to take their word.  Citrix has already introduced a new product, Citrix Receiver, that will emulate legacy PC-based programs in the cloud-environment.

Is a Chromebook really a laptop killer?  Like many posts on new technology, this one ends with the proverbial “stay tuned”.  If you were about to spend a few grand on that new Windows7 laptop, however, I would definitely wait.


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