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?