There are certain ideas that look great on paper, make a heavy connection on an intellectual level, and seem to be really well-put together. However, once you take these ideas from the safe confines of a piece of paper and take them into the real word, they turn out to be less than stellar.
Case in Point: Google and Samsung’s Chromebook laptop
The idea is very straightforward, simple, elegant, even. Ever since Microsoft rolled out Windows and its succeeding iterations, people have been complaining about it. A lot of criticism had to do with the evolution of Windows — how it threatened and actually succeeded in capturing most of the world’s computing activities and channeling it through a platform that Microsoft controls. A significant portion of the computing public has always been suspicious of the amount of control handed over to any one company. That’s why there’s always been an under current of tech rebels that wanted to break away from Microsoft’s monopoly of control. A lot of these animous fueled the free open-source software movement. A lot of it also pushed people to other platforms like Linux, UNIX and Apple’s Mac platform. Google, as we have earlier analyzed, has a different spin in terms of the struggle against Windows. Its approach is to kill Windows by letting the user interact directly with the applications and information located on the cloud. This completely cloud-based strategy needed a hardware portal and the Chromebook was launched. The idea is that you log-in to the Chromebook and you access your favorite applications from the internet. You don’t have to pay a dime throughout the whole process to Microsoft. Currently, the moment you boot up your computer, unless you’re using illegal pirated software, you are basically putting money in Microsoft’s pocket – from the operating system that you use to access information, to the office applications that you use for spreadsheets and word processing, to a whole variety of other software you interact with in your daily computing use. Google, through its Chromebook initiative, intended to kill Microsoft’s monopoly by just having the user use Google’s device to access free tools on the internet. The problem with this model, of course, is that not everybody has internet connection that’s why Microsoft’s model, which is software-based and local, is more compelling. That’s why for all intents and purposes; the Chromebook did not really take off when it was rolled out last year.
Now, Google takes another shot at Windows domination of the desktop and laptop computers with the roll out of Chromebook Series 5 offering Chromebox Series 3. The drawback to this model, similar to the drawback with last year’s models, is the base price. It costs $450 for the Chromebook and the Chromebox clocks in at $329, hardly popular and democratic prices. In this particular situation, the cost of getting the hardware is a barrier to entry. We have yet to reach stage where hardware approximates open-source software. Meaning, it’s almost close to free. There have been attempts but we’re nowhere near as evidenced by the most current versions of the Chromebox and Chromebook. The great thing about this latest offering is that there’s also an offline mode where you can work on documents without an internet connection. Some reviewers have been having issues with trying to open Word-file documents and also issues with downloading files. Other than that, most initial impressions of this new hardware from Google are that it has its bright spots –the same can be said with last year’s model. Still, the overall impression is that this is not yet a breakthrough product. There’s still a missing piece that needs to really capture the industry’s imagination for this to truly take off. When that moment comes, that’s when Microsoft should start worrying. So far, considering the dependency on internet connection, we’re still looking at the initial steps to potentially Chromebox 3 future.