Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Acer sold only 5000 Chromebooks, yet Google still promoting ChromeOS (digitimes.com)
52 points by wavephorm 1253 days ago | 65 comments



I'm generally a fan of what Google does, but I really really don't understand what they're doing with ChromeOS and the Chromebooks.

Why one network oriented mobile operating system when you can have two? (where one has tons of applications and the web, while the other just has the web).

Why get vendors to build one dedicated tablet/netbookish type device (ref:Asus Transformer) when they can build 2 or 3 (ref:netbooks)?

Why improve netbooks, which are cheap and have decent battery life and are intended for network connectivity (while offering the benefits of local apps) when you can compete with them with similar devices with less functionality at twice the price?

On top of these obvious problems, the OS was announced very early (probably before there was any code written) and it took forever to come out, wasn't really available for people to just use on their own devices conveniently (I'd much rather install this on my old laptop and turn it into a halfway decent web oriented carry-around then buy some new fangled device at 600 bucks) and Google never successfully answered the questions around having Android and this at the same time.

-----


Google's strategy seems to be to get people to spend more time on the web so they can view and click on Google ads.

On the desktop, this means less time in native apps and more time in web apps. So they sell netbooks that don't support native apps.

On mobile devices, they just want people to use smartphones rather than dumb phones. They don't even really give a shit whether they're Androids or iPhones, except introducing a competitor to the iPhone grows the smartphone market in total and commoditizes them, so they give away Android. And for that strategy to work, Android has to feature-match iOS, which means native apps. And since iPad, Google now has to grow the tablet market and commoditize them, and since iOS can be adapted to tablets, so must Android.

-----


Google's strategy seems to be to get people to spend more time on the web so they can view and click on Google ads.

Which makes the strategy of coupling ChromeOS to specific hardware devices even more odd. Why not just offer it up to people to use? Give it away a la Ubuntu and see if people wholesale switch up? Heck, if it worked decently on old machines I might be able to get another couple years out of some of the unused computers I have lying around.

That'd get the eyeballs using those machines on the web and hopefully clicking on Google ads.

This present strategy (Chrome books) is obviously not doing it and seemed odd from the start -- and smells like mission creep to me.

-----


> This present strategy (Chrome books) is obviously not doing it and seemed odd from the start -- and smells like mission creep to me.

That's likely due to the design decision to have verified boot. There is hardware specific to Chromium OS in those machines.

http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/chromiumos-design-docs/v...

They don't need to be so secure, but then it's a tougher pitch to their only market--enterprise.

-----


> Why not just offer it up to people to use?

The kind of people who install different OS's on computers they already own are more likely to actually need to use native apps and more likely to spend lots of time on the internet anyway. ChromeOS is better targeted at a lower end of the market.

-----


ChromeOS is better targeted at a lower end of the market.

Which I agree with. It's too bad that $500-600 isn't the lower end of the market anymore. I can get a usable notebook for <$300 these days. To really make a case, they need to hit the $200-$300 segment for it to make any kind of sense.

At $600 bucks I can get an actually fairly decent Windows 7 laptop.

It just comes off as "weird" to me.

-----


> At $600 bucks I can get an actually fairly decent Windows 7 laptop.

Heh, I did just that yesterday. $600 (no tax or shipping) got me a mid-range quad-core which can be used for casual gaming too.

-----


"Google's strategy seems to be to get people to spend more time on the web so they can view and click on Google ads."

Only this is an idiotic long term strategy, if Google was to go even more full speed ahead to achieve this. Getting people to spend more time on the web takes a lot more money that can be generated per person via Google ads. Especially when they can spend that time on Facebook or any other Google competitor.

Google, for example, looses tons of money on Android just to "secure" their place among mobile platforms. This will not go well.

-----


Not according to Andy Rubin: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/dec/07/androi...

-----


The article mentioned the enterprise segment and that's not surprising. I would love nothing more than to hand a Chromebook to the business customers I deal with. It keeps up to date, doesn't break and they can't install stuff on it. There goes about 95% of problems.

The market they are going after isn't small, but it also it's quick to adopting new solutions (Windows XP is still common, it came out in 2001...).

-----


> Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, at speech in Taiwan on November 9, promoted Chrome OS in high-profile for the PC market, but PC players are rather pessimistic about the idea and believe if Google wants to cut into the PC market, the company will need to provide more resources and support.

It's possible that Chromebooks are just a shitty idea. That's a pretty boring interpretation and I have nothing interesting to say about it.

But it's also possible that none of the PC manufacturers have the vision to really execute this strategy. Why would they? They aren't technology companies, they just buy parts, assemble them, and distribute them. They live in a world that Microsoft and Intel created in the 90's. No way are they going to try anything different.

What Google needs to do if they're going to pursue this strategy is to contract a manufacturer like Asus and basically design and sell the thing themselves.

-----


> "It's possible that Chromebooks are just a shitty idea."

I'm inclined to take that explanation. This is a classic case of "how can we make the customer do what we want" instead of "how do we make our customer's life better".

Yeah, Google's profit is all in ads, so it wants you to spend as much time on the web and as little time on native apps as possible. Guess what Google: your customers don't care about your bottom line.

They want the best device, for the lowest price.

So here are our two contenders:

- A "broken laptop" that can't do everything the user wants it to do. It can only go on the web. It uses a strange OS that nobody is used to but yet does not seem to offer any benefits.

- A full-featured laptop/netbook that gets the same battery life (if not better), runs a common OS everyone is already familiar with, runs all of their apps (and the ones their friends are running too), and does the web thing just as well.

And checking out Chromebooks and Dell/HP netbooks... They're even the same price.

So here's Google, offering substantially less value for the customer's dollar, and people are standing around shocked that it's not working.

The core question here is: is this product better than what it seeks to replace. And the answer, IMO, is an emphatic no. It's missing many features people have come to expect from such devices, and for that it's not even cheaper.

Google needs to turn this upside down and work from the customers. At the end of the day, as long as you don't have a monopoly, the users do what they want, you cannot push a product that has a shitty value proposition and expect people to latch on. That's insanity.

-----


Maybe google didn't have a choice. Since MS is talking about an app store, it just might be that the windows platform could become a closed platform(for the sake of security).

If google wants to do something about this , it basically have two options: the android option and the chromeOS option. They're trying them both(because of the risks involved). At some point if chromeOS fails , android will become a desktop OS. it's a natural step from using android on tablets, and google probably has people working on this too.

-----


I would like to add that PC manufacturers are not able to innovate precisely because Microsoft and Intel took all the money in the platform, commoditizing their complements. That's why PCs often suck in quality - they have to compete of price and they have to cut every corner, which sometimes they get away with, and sometimes not. And that's why they install crapware on their PCs - every penny counts in race to the bottom.

-----


See, the funny thing is that I'm just not that price sensitive, and that's the case with a lot of customers. People can feel quality, and appreciate when they see it. But the PC manufacturers are running like coked-up lemmings in their race to the bottom. That behavior's really helped Apple succeed. Many people spend over half their average workday on a machine, and even medium-sized changes in the machine is going to have a large, substantive difference.

But, then again, I think some of this psychology directly stems from Windows. MS has traditionally had this feature-checkmark mentality that pushes for more checkmarks & features over substantive quality; and you can see exactly the same thing with most Windows PCs. Now, the consumer's left a complete-shit algebra to reason about which computer is best for them. Ugh, ok, I'm cutting the rant off here.

-----


Exactly what I meant by "in a world that Microsoft and Intel created". Their value added doesn't extend much further than manufacturing, distribution, and coordinating the suppliers. Sometimes not even the manufacturing.

-----


Apple pretty easily dispels this notion.

The PC makers commoditized themselves by provided no added value.

-----


Hardware is not added value to a PC? I'm asking an honest question. Obviously I hate the "value" HP adds to PCs with terrible pre-installed software, but surely the manufacturing still counts as adding value to software, which would be useless without the hardware.

-----


The actual hardware is supplied by the CPU manufacturer, the motherboard manufacturer, the video card manufacturer, etc. The "added value" is basically distribution and sales--they buy the parts, have them shipped to a Chinese manufacturer, and then have the assembled computer shipped and distributed to retailers and customers. Some companies do the manufacturing themselves (generally the Chinese manufacturer, who's edged into the sales and distribution side a la Lenovo) and some companies design their own cases (poorly, a la Dell). It's really a boring industry.

-----


"What Google needs to do if they're going to pursue this strategy is to contract a manufacturer like Asus and basically design and sell the thing themselves."

Google doesn't have a marketing team on the ground. Selling to enterprise requires face time. Lots of it. Second, Google doesn't offer good support. The best you can get is email support. Which isn't gonna cut it.

Until Google makes serious investments in these area ChromeOS isn't breaking into the IT shops.

-----


Disclaimer: I am a Google employee.

> Google doesn't have a marketing team on the ground. Selling to enterprise requires face time. Lots of it.

Perhaps I'm biased as a Google employee in NYC, but there are hundreds of sales and marketing employees in my building and across the street in Chelsea market. Google is very serious about expanding into the enterprise, and yes, that includes sales and marketing efforts. Why do you think that is not the case?

> Second, Google doesn't offer good support. The best you can get is email support.

The first result for the query [google phone support] on Google is http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/static.py?page=contactin..., which gives both US and international numbers for 24/7 phone support for Google Apps Business and Education editions. AdWords also has phone support. I do not know details about Chromebooks, but it is simply untrue that google only has email support.

-----


Disclaimer: I am a Google customer. Not an app customer but I've been responsible for several million in ad spend over the years.

If the support you get you when you spend 10,000k+ per week is anything to go by, Google has the worst support I have ever encountered. By far.

-----


I don't get why people are in a rush to poop on Chrome after 6 months when it's pretty clear Android followed the same path to success:

(1) get an inferior beta product out in the market early;

(2) then iterate both the product and the ecosystem so that

(3) when the category explodes you have a moat that makes you the default option.

We all know that decisions at Google, particularly for resource allocation are data driven. Google Docs is not good enough for the enterprise today. The only way it will be good enough in 2014 when thin clients explode is for resources to be allocated today which requires the 2011 Chromebook failure.

-----


Android is a huge step forward from feature phones while ChromeOS is a huge step backwards from real PCs. It's almost the exact opposite of Android in many ways. Android is probably the most capable SmartPhone platform in a booming market. ChromeOS is probably the least capable platform in the depressed market for PCs. It's almost comical how juxtaposed the two are. I think Google's model is sound enough just the wrong product at the wrong time. I'm also not sure the OEMs making ChromeBooks were let in on the failure guarantee thing. Sounds like another Logitech/Google TV situation developing. Will they still be making ChromeBooks in 2 years?

-----


"Android is a huge step forward from feature phones"

And it was a shitty smartphone in the first iteration.

"ChromeOS is a huge step backwards from real PCs"

Which is a different category then what ChromeOS is in.

-----


If a device has the same form factor and approximately the same price I'd say it's in the same category by most standards. If part of Google's plan is to get ChromeBooks down to $99 or maybe $199 then it might be successful.

-----


They're selling to businesses who know the price tag of an item isn't what it says on the package. Google believes they can reduce your IT costs enough that a ChromeBook pays for itself. It's not a race to the bottom, it's a race to the Cloud.

The problem is there aren't a lot of enterprises that are (yet) completely web based. It's going that way and there are more every day, but Google's still ahead of the curve with ChromeOS.

-----


"""They're selling to businesses"""

RTFA. The whole point is that they are NOT selling. Period.

-----


Don't be a dick, you know exactly what I mean. From the FA:

"Analyzing Chromebooks' difficult situation, the sources pointed out that although Google is mainly pushing Chromebooks in the enterprise market, its Google Docs applications cannot meet the needs the enterprise users."

-----


One of the interesting things about Google's recent forays into products is that it appears to be able to outsource its risk and subsequent losses. Imagine if Apple released products as unsuccessful as GoogleTV and Chromebook — it would be a bloodbath. On the one hand i guess this makes being a product manager at Google less stressful. On the other, just how committed is Google to any of this?

-----


Final Cut Pro X? Ping? iAds? Apple doesn't bat near perfect. Some good stuff has come out this endeavor though--Cloud Print has been integrated into Chrome and is fantastic. Beats the pants off of AirPrint from Apple (for starters, you don't need to buy a new printer).

-----


Sure, but the OP still has a good point. Google can put out major, 'change the way we do X' products out there and completely flop without much fuss. They get back on it with a new products with the hope that one of them will take off.

Apple bats much higher and rarely misses on the big products. They make big announcements and put a lot of credibility behind never seen by the public products. Out of the major product categories, a lot caught fire fast: ipods, iphones, ipads, OSX, istore, itunes, air. Several didn't catch fire like that but still picked up decent usage: appleTV, icloud, iwork, ilife

It's actually a remarkable experiment. Evolution vs intelligent design. Both are way better than the average but each approach probably has an advantage in certain situations.

Apple's approach is probably better for hardware-software products. You need scale and certainty to get prices down and the wow factor to jumpstart sales.

-----


Let's stop the Final Cut Pro X was inferior meme.

FCPX was a new codebase. To build upon. There was no "dumbing down" (as some idiots suggest every time the see a redesigned UI), it's still a full professional app. It lacked features, because you can't have everything carried over and ship in a timely manner (ask the TextMate programmer). Those will be added in future releases, until then people can use the old version.

FCP was a tangled mess of a codebase, inherited from a different company, in a different era and OS version, and never rewritten to take advantage of Cocoa frameworks et al. The could have piled some new features to the old bloat and called it a "new release" (Adobe does it all the time, especially with Photoshop and Illustrator). Instead they took time, effort and money to build something they can build upon for the next decade.

Think of it like the transition from OS 9 to X. Was 10.1 perfect? Not by far. Did it lack OS 9 features? It did. But it was the foundation to take us where we are today, while OS 9++ would have gotten us nowhere.

-----


> Imagine if Apple released products as unsuccessful as GoogleTV and Chromebook — it would be a bloodbath.

AppleTV? iPod Hi-Fi? MobileMe? Need I go on?

-----


Apple TV 2nd gen is selling over 500,000 units per quarter?

-----


I have a 1st gen ATV and Apple pretty much abandoned it. The 2nd gen is pretty sweet though if you're cool with streaming only (and wouldn't prefer a WDLive or Roku).

-----


If they succeed, like Android, Google is VERY committed. It's like they get other companies to test their grenades, and the ones that don't blow up in faces, they stick with. Hence Google buys Motorola, but not, say, Acer.

-----


Not that I pay attention to ChromeOS, I wonder why they aren't using Android. But, that's really hard to believe they sold only 5,000 by the end of July 2011. An org I work with ordered a couple hundred or so (in June-ish), alone.

DigiTimes doesn't cite a source, so if anyone has a source, drop me a line here.

-----


The article nails it with:

"although Google is mainly pushing Chromebooks in the enterprise market, its Google Docs applications cannot meet the needs the enterprise users"

I don't know how google could possibly have released the Chromebooks before their apps worked offline. That alone was a showstopper but the apps themselves are still just not nearly feature-rich enough to replace real office apps. Look at OpenOffice / LibreOffice - even with 10 times the features of Google's solutions it doesn't make a dent even though it is free. I think Google is just delusional about what's needed here. They can't "incrementally" get to where they need to be from where they are. It's a whole different ball park.

-----


Somewhat misleading title - the article said Acer sold 5k Chromebooks in the first month and a half. Still not stellar, but not as bad as the title makes it out to be.

-----


Yeah, because in the second month and afterwards sales skyrocketed, right?

It's bad. Period.

-----


I could see these systems being desired by enterprise the customers. The way that everything is locked down surely must be attractive to IT departments.

My mother had all sorts of problems with Windows ranging from spyware and virii to failed updates. I set her up with Linux years back, and it has suited her needs quite well. Now she has a new machine, an ASUS netbook with Windows 7... and it recently lost wireless ability I some inscrutable way following a Windows update. She spends 98% of her computing time using a browser. As someone who began using modern computers within the past few years, she already has a fuzzy view of the line between a browser and an operating system.

I'm thinking that actually, for her usage profile Chromium OS would be a great fit. I don't think that people should be so quick to declare ChromeOS a failure. It's quite forward thinking in my view and it will be interesting to see if we see significant adoption. As noted by some others here, one thing that is holding back ChromeOS's usefulness is the relative immaturity of the Google browser apps, such as Docs, that are supposed to make up the core of the productivity software for the platform.

-----


I thought about buying a Chromebook, but realized I wouldn't be able to run f.lux or redshift on it, which is pretty much essential for me.

I imagine quite a few other people need just that "one extra application" and realized that it wouldn't work on the Chromebook.

-----


ChromeOS is an interesting beast. I've said it before that as the 'tablet/netbook' version of Android I felt like it had a solid chance, but I don't think the Android/ChromeOS rivalry inside of Google would let that succeed.

Given how much 'better' Ice Cream Sandwich looks on an Asus 'tablet/keyboard dock' than ChromeOS does I believe they are going to lose this round.

Oh, and the kernel's are largely similar its more like 'Phone/Android' and 'Chrome/Android' so that confuses things even more.

-----


Lack of sufficient client-side caching makes ChromeOS a horrible user experience, especially in places with less great internet access. The places most enthused by a ChomeOS cost advantage are precisely those with worse internet coverage.

ChromeOS is a strategic mistake but an example of Google feeling the need to copy Apple's simplicity sells model.

Businesses are the target market for ChromeOS but simplicity (e.g. Apple's model) doesn't sell well to businesses because businesses want as much as they can for the money, and they can get a regular netbook with native apps for the same cost.

Simplicity is great for personal computing and device markets, but ChromeOS is inferior to Android for this market, so where's the selling point?

If Google made ChromeOS devices really cool, really slick and really cheap, e.g. devoted the effort Apple does, these could succeed. But Google isn't going to do that with G+ and the millions of other initiatives they're focused on.

-----


They'd sell fine if they weren't the same price as a real laptop.

-----


I received a CR-48 as part of the ChromeOS pilot program. It's been nice to use during school for notetaking and general web browsing, but I could never see myself purchasing one on my own. Honestly, the only reason I haven't given it away is because of the free 100mb of 3G every month.

I could see Chromebooks being more popular if they were a more reasonable price, say $99, but the current ones are way to expensive. I think the problem is that they are basically regular netbook hardware with a free OS. The only difference between a Chromebook and a netbook is the free OS vs. a non-free OS. With it only being limited to the web, there's not much reason for the average consumer to choose a Chromebook over a netbook with all the extra features of Windows 7.

-----


I think it's more like a research project than anything else. Google knows the local-storage-as-main-storage idea is dying and wants to test other ideas at some scale.

Also, this number can't be right: Google alone probably ordered more than 5000 machines.

-----


So, I have Chromebook, it is really nice laptop for what it is meant to be used. I have friends who are huge fans of it, I installed Ubuntu on mine recently and kind of, improved it quite a bit. I have Samsung and build is not that great, battery life is, though, having MBP, this is one machine that is much lighter and long lasting for significantly longer. I think if they would do next round it would be really good machine, and lower to like $200, keep the format of 12". Add maybe page up and down to keyboard, that's all.

-----


"I have Chromebook"

'Me have Chromebook', surely.

-----


"""So, I have Chromebook, it is really nice laptop for what it is meant to be used. I have friends who are huge fans of it, I installed Ubuntu on mine recently and kind of, improved it quite a bit."""

So you don't have Chromebook, you just have a cheap plastic laptop.

Chromebook is all about running Chrome OS.

-----


alt + arrows = page up/down alt + ctrl + arrows = home/end

Very useful when reading pdfs or long articles.

-----


I think the inevitable trend for the desktop OS has been moving toward fully web/browser based for many years now. 99% of the time I use my desktop, I'm in the browser. The first thing I click when I boot-up is the browser.

ChromeOS makes a lot of sense, but there are a few hurdles that will naturally work themselves out over the next 3 years. Things like Internet speeds, connectivity issues, offline/online data sync, the user's hesitations, the current state of web technologies to replace native apps etc.

-----


No way?! Google doesn't understand what consumers want? That's so out-of-character for them.

-----


This redirects me to a paywall. Not visible on Google Cache either.

-----


You should be so lucky, with recoiledsnake's transcript.

Times New Roman in the middle of three animated gif ad units, that all change frames at different rates and times.

-----


for me too, found this google searching: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/computers/poor-sales-of-chromebook...

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20111109PD222.html

-----


Full article text:

Google pushing Chrome OS for PCs; vendors give it the cold shoulder

Aaron Lee, Tapei; Joseph Tsai, DIGITIMES [Thursday 10 November 2011]

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, at speech in Taiwan on November 9, promoted Chrome OS in high-profile for the PC market, but PC players are rather pessimistic about the idea and believe if Google wants to cut into the PC market, the company will need to provide more resources and support.

During his speech, Schmidt mentioned several times about Chrome OS' advantages such as fast boot up, no virus issues and free of charge, and prompted PC players to give Chrome OS a try.

However, due to demand for Chrome OS-based devices (Chromebooks) being lower than expected, PC players are taking a passive attitude toward opening projects. In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry. However, Acer has declined to comment.

Analyzing Chromebooks' difficult situation, the sources pointed out that although Google is mainly pushing Chromebooks in the enterprise market, its Google Docs applications cannot meet the needs the enterprise users.

Meanwhile, since Chromebooks' major advantage is their cloud computing capability allowing users to use online document processing tools, if users are at a location without Internet connection or have poor connection quality, the advantage becomes a disadvantage of the device, noted the sources, adding that cloud computing is the trend of the future, but Chromebook is currently still too idealized.

-----


Sorry about that. There was no paywall for iOS/Safari.

-----


Had no issue accessing on firefox either, I run a bunch of ad and script blockers though.

-----


I got a paywall on my iPhone FWIW.

-----


What is this obsession in the press about killing Google initiatives? I'm not imagining this am I? it's all about "this isn't working why even bother".

Not everything needs be an over night success, specially new concepts such as this, they seem to even dismiss the notion of long term projects. Is it just PR attacks from Google's competitors or is it that they just like to gloat?

-----


I think Google initiatives and effectiveness are being killed by hiring more and more some KIND of persons. That KIND of persons has killed MS and many other IT companies in US. Now they are killing Google. Once an IT company occasionally hires one of them, those guys will hire more and more their KIND, spend significant money and efforts on doing something just wasting resources but the management level are marketed to trust.

-----


I think it's because most recent google projects have been launched into a doubtful world and quickly abandoned.

-----


Not directly related to the article, but a personal opinion I will take this opportunity to point:

Product names and logos are a small but somewhat influential aspect, of a product overall perception. I have this perception on some product names and logos, relevant to this discussion:

  - apple: cool
  - apple logo: very cool
  - android: very cool
  - android logo: very cool
  - windows: average
  - windows logo: average
  - ubuntu: cool
  - ubuntu logo: average
  - webOS: poor
  - chromeOS: below average
  - chromebook: below average
I have a not very positive perception of the chromeOS and chromebooks names. For a google OS, different of android, I would have preferred maybe something like "GOOS". I wonder what other people think of the chromeOS product name.

-----




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Y Combinator | Apply | Contact

Search: