Try as I might, even a hardcore gadget freak like me finds it impossible to get excited over Chromebooks.
Compared to the prospect of using a Chromebook, sitting through a Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan, Allu Arjun or Ajith Kumar movie would be an unending thrill.
Just yesterday, a gaggle of journalists fawned over a new series of Chromebooks (from Hisense, Asus and Haier) and Chromebits (Asus).
Now tell me why I should get tumescent over a Chromebook that contains less storage than my 16GB iPhone, 16GB USB drive ($8) or 32GB iPad?
An average Chromebook claims 16GB of storage but in reality has only 8GB of user storage after accounting for system files.
And the processing power of a Chromebook? Pitiful!
Its RAM? Negligible!
My eight-year-old used Dell Optiplex 780 that I got off eBay for $80-$90 has more processing power (Core 2 duo quad core), more RAM (4GB), more storage (250GB) and is more easily upgradeable (you don’t even need a screwdriver to open the Optiplex 780 SFF and add RAM, upgrade the hard-drive or remove the DVD drive).
As if all the other shortcomings were not bad enough, with Chromebooks I’m supposed to have Internet connectivity most of the time and store my documents and photographs in the cloud (where any government or non-government chutiya can have at it) or on USB drives that can easily get lost or stolen.
Not Open Source Enemy
Don’t you dare get me wrong.
I belong neither in the Windows nor in the Mac camps. (For the most part, Windows is garbage and the (overpriced) Mac OS X operating system is hurtling down the same trashy path).
No, No, No! I’m no enemy of open source software like Linux (on which Chromebooks’ Chrome OS is based).
Like so many of my sweet readers, I too love to dive deep into the open source pool.
You’ll find me at my happiest tinkering around with CentOS, VirtualBox, Docker and Fedora Workstation, adding and removing repositories and VMs to my PC, salivating over the ton of free software, torturing myself with VIM, iptables, fail2ban, partition tables and Wine (not the grape kind), and mounting and unmounting (I’m only talking of mounting drives…don’t let your imagination run riot fantasising about my other ‘mounting‘ hobbies).
To prove my open source credentials, I swear on the Song Celestial (Bhagavad Gita) that I’m a greater admirer of Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman than of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and, yes, this post was written on a Linux PC with a 3.13.0-37 kernel. 😉
So I have no bias against Linux or its spawns like Chrome OS, Bodhi, Kali, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Puppy et al.
Chromebooks – Too Many Issues
There are far too many issues with Chromebooks that make them an unworthy computing device vis-a-vis notebooks or desktops (as for tablets, only dolts will argue that they can do more than let us watch trashy Korean TV romances on Viki.com).
Besides the measly storage, effete processors, low RAM and the need for constant Internet connectivity that I’ve already mentioned, several of the Chromebooks are not even upgradeable and have fewer USB ports than a laptop.
If you want to add more RAM or a higher capacity SSD to a Chromebook, sorry kiddo, no can do.
Of course, most popular software including the Office desktop version won’t run on Chromebooks.
And best as I know Linux software won’t run on Chromebooks either unless you install Ubuntu or another Linux distro alongside Chrome OS and turn it into a dual-boot system.
If you thought all Android apps would run on Chromebooks because of their common parent (Google), I’m sorry to shatter your illusions because most won’t.
Chromebooks are not as cheap as you might think. They cost from $200 to $1,200 depending on the brand and configuration.
But some human beings are bizarre creatures.
They look at the $199 price tag and start ejaculating anon deluding themselves that they’re getting a good deal.
If you ask me, Chromebooks are overpriced for the limited value they provide.
Fortunately, not too many people are dumb enough to take the Chromebook bait.
Last year, about 309 million desktop PCs and notebooks were sold (source: IDC) compared to a measly 3 or 4 million Chromebooks.
Four years after Chromebooks arrived, they’re struggling with barely 1% marketshare of PCs (both desktops and notebooks combined). For comparative purposes, in the first four years after launch Apple sold over 225 million iPad tablets.
Chromebooks have not made even a small dent in the wider market despite all the media hype from semi-literate hacks.
Businesses of all sizes have shown the middle finger to Chromebooks and consumers in Asia and Europe have largely yawned.
Over 80% of Chromebooks are sold in the U.S. and mostly into the education market (source: Gartner).
A lot of the Chromebooks are being sold to U.S. schools/Education departments where incompetence rules (I’m with the Republicans on the incompetence of U.S. public schools).
Chromebooks – Indian Scene
Indian consumers, students and schools are more value conscious than their American counterparts.
I cannot imagine Indians have bought Chromebooks in large numbers.
In my not so humble opinion, no more than a few thousand Chromebooks must have been sold in India over the last four years.
Hey, even a few thousand units is likely to be an overestimate.
I checked on Indian e-commerce site Flipkart and Chromebook prices ranged from Rs 22,000 to Rs 25,480.
You can get a new HP or Dell notebook with superior configurations for Rs 22,000 to Rs 25,000 and a used desktop or notebook should cost a few thousand Rupees less.
More Theatre than Sales
If you ask me, Chromebooks in their present low RAM, low storage capacity and weak processor format won’t last long.
Like netbooks of 2005-2010 and Larry Ellison’s overhyped Network Computers of the late 1990s, Chromebooks are destined for the garbage dump.
In my view, Chromebooks are essentially drama on Google’s part as a hype-machine and to see if they can apply some pressure on both Microsoft and Apple (traditionally strong in the education sector).
The only suckers who have fallen for Google’s Chromebook theatrics are the tech journalists who should know better and some U.S. schools
As for revenues, Google’s Chromebook pressure tactic is not working as both Apple and Microsoft are entrenched in their unique ways and continue to churn out record profits quarter after quarter.
I doubt Google or any of the Chromebook vendors like Samsung, HP or Asus are making any real money off Chromebooks.
At best, Chromebooks are a niche product targeted at dumb shits who don’t know better.
No one in his right senses would give Chromebooks a second thought.