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The flop of Chromebook and the cloud vs. apps war

The Chromebook launched earlier this year and is reportedly a real dud. Chromebooks are designed to be pretty much portals to the internet and not much more. Backed by Google, they rely on the Chrome browser. And while the price of $399 is pretty cheap compared to a laptop or a PC, it's still four hundred bucks for something that just gets you online.

ZDNet quotes a DigiTimes story about how things are going:

In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry. However, Acer has declined to comment.

5000 units would work out to about 1000 per month. For some scale, about a million PCs are sold each day.

And yesterday in Taiwan, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt admitted that demand was "lower than expected".

There are a lot of factors in play here, of course: maybe the hardware isn't great, maybe people want something stronger, maybe the dawn of the $199 Kindle Fire took a bite out of this.

But I keep seeing this as a victory for apps over cloud. Google's proposition is that we don't need local storage, we don't need much in the way of a machine at all because it's all about a browser that connects you to the internet. Apple, on the other hand, along with other companies and devices, says storage on the machine matters because people want apps, not just a browser window.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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John -
I normally like your reporting, but in this case, get your facts straight. The very article you quoted reports there were 5,000 Acer Chromebooks sales BY THE END OF JULY. The Acer model went on sale in mid-June. That's not 5 months, that's less than 2 months.

Also, it is $349, not $399.

The sales are definitely not stellar, but they are also unreported. The device is primarily targeted at education and enterprise, but can also work well for consumers. It will take a while to catch on, but Google is betting that more and more people will transition data and applications to the Cloud, and require a thinner and thinner operating system over time.

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