2013: the year Google positions Chromebooks as proper Windows rivals

Introducing the new Chromebook
Introducing the new Chromebook

Chrome OS, Google’s ugly duckling of an operating system, might still be an interesting obscurity but today it’s come closer to turning into something more beautiful with the announcement that Chromebooks will go on sale in six additional countries.

Google’s hybrid laptop/tablet devices, Chromebooks, have only been commercially available for less than two years and in that time they’ve only been available in a handful of countries.

So, for most home users, Chromebooks remain a mystery and with today’s launch you get the feeling that Google is okay with that.  Because along with announcing the release of Chromebooks in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands Google also announced that it will release Chromebook services for schools and businesses.

Education and enterprise users have always been the most profitable markets for computer makers and this is not going to change in the near future.  At home we’re increasingly buying tablets and smartphones rather than PCs (just look at the poor sales of Windows 8 so far) and Google has this market secured with Android but in schools and for work we still rely on the standard desktop/laptop set up.

And it’s this market that Google is courting. The company has already lined up a series of Google Hangouts for enterprise and educational interests. While as far back as 2011, just four months after the original devices launched in the US, Dublin City University in Ireland became the first European university to provide Chromebooks to first year students.

If you’re still not convinced just look at the announcements Google has made about Chrome OS this year.  We’ve already seen the release of the Chromebook Pixel, the operating system’s flagship 239 pixels-per-inch monster, while Chrome’s Product Management Director, Caesar Sengupta, said that Chromebooks will be coming to even more countries before the end of 2013.

The launch comes less than a week after Google’s co-founder of Android resigned from the company, handing responsibility for the mobile platform’s development over to the Head of Chrome, Sundar Pichai. So we might see some closer development of the two operating systems.

Chromebooks mightn’t yet be competing with Windows but Google’s playing the long game, positioning its Windows-rival and waiting for the market to catch up.

We’ll have a review of the latest Google Chromebooks online in the next week.

1 Comment

  1. A Microsoft surface is a “hybrid laptop/tablet device;” a Chromebook is most emphatically not. A Chromebook is a cloud-based computer, with a very secure, but restricted OS. I have been using Chromebooks since the Cr-48 pilot project, and I have had a Nexus 7 since last summer. There is very little overlap in functionality between a Chromebook and a tablet, although there is a great deal of synergy between a Chromebook and a Nexus 7 if one is involved with multiple Google services.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).