The Chromebook seems to be all about corporate strategy ("everything in the browser!") and not about creating something people actually want.
I'd love to hear about how I'm wrong however.
Edit: unsurprisingly, I seem to be wrong. :) The top selling laptop on Amazon is a Chromebook (http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/pc/565108/)
You see, I really liked running Ubuntu on my Cr-48. It pretty well convinced me to get the 4G iPad, just so I could have mobile data on my macbook. So I now carry a 4g iPad and 15" rMBP and gave the Cr-48 to my daughter.
Yesterday, my son dislocated (subluxed?) the Cr-48's screen hinge. Apparently the hinge mounting screws inside the case had worked themselves a bit loose and his action hyperextended the joint so far the plastic pieces of hinge interfered with each other so it wouldn't close. And the hinge was obviously loose. My daughter was hysterical until I took it apart (took about 2 minutes from incident to repair). During those two minutes, I seriously thought about getting another one. Because she loves it sooo much.
So, at least in terms of cheap, energy-efficient, light, mobile laptop, I think there's a market. ChromeOS, I don't know. I'm in the military, so a network-dependent OS is a non-starter for me.
For Christmas, I'm not sure I'm getting the kids any electronics. I'm tempted to get them iPad minis but I don't see them using tablets for anything productive, so an ultrabook makes more sense. But I see no reason to a) buy a laptop for a 7- and 10 year old kids, or b) buy a Chromebook, even at the price, if I'm only going to convert it to Ubuntu. In part because switching the BiOS is one headache more than I care to endure. In part because imposing an unsupported operating system on someone else just seems rude.
In the case of the Asus C7: no way am I buying any more spinning rust hard drives.
I bought it because I thought I could use it to ssh (via the underlying terminal in developer mode) into my linode and work on the train each day to and from work. I bought the 3G Chromebook for this reason. When I got it I was very impressed. The build quality is really excellent, it is a piece of really well built commodity hardware. Plastic but excellent, hinge weight and great keyboard. The 3G was unworkable and I had to give up my mobile plans on day one (not the Chromebooks fault - I live in York and commute to Leeds, with bad 3G coverage).
So the next stage my Chromebook stays at home and overnight becomes the internet computer for the whole house. We watch TV on it, we do searches on it. It is fast, it is light and for surfing the internet it is just this always on service. Very good :)
During this time I played around with installing another OS on the Chromebook. But it was always difficult and I never dedicated the time to gritting through it. However, when the new Chromebooks came out I got all exited again and started looking into it again. In the mean time someone has set up a very easy to use install, with instructions, Ubuntu onto your Chromebook. I did this. Now I program every day on the train to and from work and I enjoy my Chromebook more than any computer I have owned before.
A caveat, I use my Ubuntu-ised Chromebook to hack Go code in vim. I am just using terminals and a browser. So if you want more than that from a laptop you may not enjoy it as much as I have.
This is just for hackers though. Does not explain why the new ones are so popular with the general public. But my wife is not in IT and she loves it (even with Ubuntu on it :)
Sounds like these kind of devices need a return period due to usability of wireless services. Was that even an option?
So far, I love it. $250 for a tiny, zippy machine with great battery life that can do 99% of what I need, especially since it comes with ssh. On laptops, I usually hate every non-Macbook keyboard, but this one's keyboard is almost indistinguishable in feel from the Macbook Air's, so typing on it is a breeze.
It has some hiccups here and there, but considering that this machine hasn't even been available for a month yet, I expect those to get ironed out eventually.
The price is appealing but I cannot see much else that interests me. Some people were saying it cannot even make office documents, open video files, or audio. Those are big damn drawbacks.