Chrome OS Cr-48 Review Part 4: 10 Reasons People Won’t Buy This Notebook (or one like it)

We’ve already covered the benefits of Chrome OS and cloud computing extensively. But as you can guess by the title of this article, this article is going to have a negative tone. I’ve been playing with the Chrome Cr-48 for a week now. While there are many features that are cool in theory, I don’t think many consumers would actually buy a Cr-48 if it were on store shelves. Sales of other Chrome OS notebooks, slated to hit shelves beginning mid-2011, will fall flat unless a bunch of bugs are squashed and people stop snapping digital photos, recording videos and buying iPhones.

There’s certainly plenty of room for improvement and it may take a company like Google that’s not invested in the status quo to completely re-think the desktop OS. But what about the tradeoffs?

People don’t like compromises. Sure, the web is buzzing with thousands and thousands of people clamoring to get their hands on a free Cr-48, but I wonder if this would be the case if the price tag were $500 instead of $0. While Chrome is my favorite browser, Chrome OS asks people to compromise on way too much.  Here are 10 reasons why consumers won’t buy Chrome notebooks if the Cr-48 is indicative of what’s to come from Acer and other partners.

1) No Applications

People will avoid Chrome OS notebooks for one of the biggest reasons they avoid MacBooks: Lack of Applications. A lot of applications have migrated to the web, but almost everyone has at least one application that they rely on for work or pleasure.

Popular desktop applications offer more functionality and richer user experiences than their web app equivalents. They’re often more intuitive and can be customized to fit the users’ needs.

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Millions of iPhone, iPod and iPad users will shun the Chrome notebook since it won’t be able to sync with their iDevices. Many workers have to live in an app or two all day long. While there are some web equivalents, enterprises run specialized apps that aren’t yet available in the cloud. Running Microsoft’s, SAP’s, Oracle’s and other big vendors’ apps is impossible, unless you want to run them via Citrix.

I completely understand the premise of running apps in a datacenter instead of locally to reduce maintenance,  but many of the arguments for thin-client computing fall flat when fully capable notebooks are very affordable.

2) No local Storage

The Cr-48 comes with a 16GB SSD that can’t be used to store media files. We’ve seen how the masses react to tiny drives in netbooks and other portable devices. They simply ask for more. It was only a couple of years ago that Asus, HP and others sold netbooks with 16GB of storage and people cried out for more room to store all of their files. Sub $400 netbooks and notebooks can now be had with 250GB, 320GB or 500GB drives.

Storage capacity is a major selling point at retail and I wish the blue shirts luck in trying to sell 0GB of storage against 500GB or more.

Storage is cheaper than ever and consumers simply expect to be able to store stuff on their machines. Sure, people enjoy accessing their photos on the web, but they don’t want to wait hours to upload a GB of photos to the web when returning from vacation before they can do anything with them.

3) The Chrome OS Browser Doesn’t Work Everywhere

There are plenty of web sites, including many government sites, that require Internet Explorer still. Many more will allow for Firefox or Safari. Most of those will also work with Chrome on a Mac or PC.

For example, the Cr-48 can’t play Netflix videos. Instead of being able to watch videos in the Watch Instantly section, Chrome OS users are greeted with a message about how they need to use OSX or Windows to stream movies.

With a Mac or PC, the simple answer to sites that don’t like your browser is to download another browser. You can’t do that with the Cr-48.

4) Too Much Dog Food?

The Cr-48 is a perfect case of making dog food for yourself. Many companies pride themselves on ‘dogfooding’ whatever they’re building before releasing it to the masses. By promising to eat their own dog food, they tell the rest of the world that their products are good enough for consumption. The problem with this concept is that technology ends up being built for specific product managers, software developers and other company insiders rather than the masses.

Google Chrome and the Cr-48 might be a passable solution if you work at the Googleplex, but it’s a hard sell out here in the real world. In Mountain View there’s plenty of WiFi (Free provided by Google) and Verizon Wireless towers. Googlers are issued Android phones rather than iPhones or BlackBerry smartphones, collaborate via Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office, chat over Google Talk instead of Skype, and ride private WiFi-equipped busses to work instead of catching public transit.

The best Chrome OS notebook customer will probably be Google itself.

5) Verizon 3G is Too Expensive

Google Chrome OS notebooks come with 100MB of Verizon mobile broadband for free every month. That’s not nearly enough for those that actually want to use the Cr-48, or its brethren outdoors, while traveling or hop-scotching around town on a regular basis.   Many web pages take up over 1MB of bandwidth to load and you can forget about streaming media.

While I really do like the fact that Verizon service is contract free with Chrome notebooks, there are data caps. Fifty bucks for 5GB of data is standard fare these days, but there are two problems with this pricing structure. Computing purely in the cloud will eat through MB and GB much faster compared to mixing things up between local applications and the Web.

Those who can comfortably afford $50 a month for a secondary Internet connection are much better off with a wireless hotspot. You can opt for something like a MiFi from Virgin Wireless, a virtual network that runs on Sprint, if you want to go contract free.

Verizon’s ramping up LTE, its next-gen data network. Speeds are blazing fast and are probably much more suitable for getting large files up to the cloud.  In fact, Verizon LTE is faster than many home and office connections. The wireless broadband card in Chrome OS notebooks is already obsolete. If you’re going to pay for wireless broadband you should get what you pay for. There’s not much of a price premium for LTE compared to 3G.

6) Graphics are Horrible

The Intel Atom processor and integrated graphics make for a horrible graphics experience. You can forget about streaming HD video on the Cr-48. In fact, you can forget about watching standard-def content full-screen on the Cr-48. Watching 480p YouTube videos isn’t doable, unless you’re really into stop-motion. We can only web experiences to get heavier and richer as hardware acceleration goes main stream. The average consumer would assume their Chrome notebooks were broken if they couldn’t perform a task as simple as playing a YouTube video.

AMD is set to release APUs, Intel’s talking about Sandybridge and NVIDIA’s powering netbooks and notebooks of all sizes with its graphics solutions. Media-rich sites and application developers are going to assume their users/visitors are using machines with decent graphics.

7) Cost

Nobody knows how much the Cr-48 would cost, but I’m guessing that Acer and other OEMs are still going to want to make some cash here. So will Intel, other component makers and oh yeah…Google. Like Android, Chrome OS is open sourced, which means Google won’t earn money from selling licenses, but I’m sure the company has plans to earn money from search, the Chrome Web store and other hooks.

A notebook of similar specifications and build quality of the Cr-48 would be in the $500-$800 range at retail. I don’t think people will spend that much on a notebook with the current limitations of Chrome OS. Something’s going to have to give in the price arena if Chrome OS is going to launch with much fanfare.

8) Minimal Peripheral Support

To talk about printing as a feature in the year 2010 is ridiculous. Like with everything else, printing is only supported via the cloud. You can forget about using your my favorite Bluetooth headset with the Cr-48. You can also forget about shuffling files back forth to your iPad. Need to scan some documents or photos with your fancy all-in-one? Good luck with that.

9) The Chrome Web store Sucks

It’s still early in the game, but so far I’m really not impressed with the Chrome Web store. The free ‘apps’ look almost exactly the same when using Safari or Firefox. All you have to do is punch in a url or two. Google Finance is a nice site, but calling it a web app is stretching the definition a bit.

As we’ve mentioned previously, Chrome Web app store sales are pretty much non-existant. In fact, a developer commented that the sales numbers were severely overstated.

Some of the web pages, such as Sports Illustrated Snapshot are artfully laid out, but most people will be annoyed at the $.99 fees for viewing photos that are available elsewhere. That might fly on mobile devices, but it’s much easier to find content and similar services using a desktop browser.

10) Macs and Windows PCs are Better

In a world without affordable notebooks, the Cr-48 is clearly a champ. The idea of a maintenance-free OS is very appealing, but not compared to what’s already out there. All of the cool features, such as the quick startup time and long battery life, are available now on other systems. These features will become much more widespread in 2011.

One big question mark about Chrome OS notebooks is price. In 2011 we’ll see more an more notebooks that are geared toward mobility for under $500 than ever before. If Google wants Chrome OS to succeed, Chrome Notebooks will have to be priced far lower than their Windows counterparts.

Google employees are issued ThinkPads and/or MacBook Pros. They’ll also get Cr-48’s as part of the Chrome notebook pilot program. I spoke with several Google employees outside of the Chrome OS group and NONE of them said they would choose the Cr-48 if they were only allowed one machine. Having multiple machines at your disposal is a luxury many consumers can’t afford. Most people still use ONE personal computer. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen under-spec’d netbooks fall by the wayside since they need one machine that does everything.

There’s nothing that you can do with the Cr-48 that you can’t do with a Mac or PC running the Chrome browser. You can even pick up where you left off if you use Google Docs, DropBox or any other number of cloud services.

I tried using the Cr-48 exclusively for a day a few times, but switched over to my MacBook Air within an hour on each occasion after hitting road blocks. What were those road blocks? Fairly simple things like having to upload/download files via FTP, add some images to my articles here on GBM and upload videos to YouTube.

Conclusion

Chrome OS notebooks will serve as decent secondary mobile machines, but the platform is simply half baked. There are clear advantages to Google’s approach of getting rid of common computing frustrations, but the cure is worse the disease. Those who don’t work and live 100% in the cloud will face a mountain of frustration using Chrome notebooks. In fact, I’d only advise those that use Google’s many services to bother using a Chrome OS notebook.

Google should seriously reevaluate Chrome OS and fold it into the popular Android platform unless it plans on growing Chrome OS beyond the browser.  While Google’s insisting that Chrome OS is all about the browser, there is a chance that the first public version of Chrome OS is simply laying the groundwork for a full-blown desktop OS. I hope Google finds a way to make Chrome OS succeed over the long term since a third option would certainly put everyone on their toes.

You can read the other parts of the Google Chrome OS Cr-48 review here:

Chrome OS Cr-48 Review Part 1: Out of Box Experience

Chrome OS Cr–48 Review Part 2: Verizon 3G Setup

Chrome OS Cr–48 Review Part 3: Ports and Photo Gallery

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Comments

    • Xavier Lanier says

      I know the Cr-48 won’t be sold to the general public (and updated the headline to emphasize this). Do you think any Chrome OS notebooks will be sold with similar features?

      • Jakeryan91 says

        u know the version that we received is not going to be released to the public, u should mention somewhere that this is more or less a prototype and the chances that the final product will be exactly like this is a gross misconception…on the assumption that they are going to fix what’s wrong

      • Good Samaritan says

        This is a prototype. That’s why this is a beta version. You are missing the ENTIRE concept of a beta testing. If you want a lot of people to test your software, do you think you are going to ship them with the fastest processors and best hardware? Hell no, that would be ridiculously expensive and a waste because this is the BEGINNING of what will be a good operating system. Do you think when Bill Gates first starting programing, if he wanted to send out a beta he would pay for cool shit? no. The fact that you published this article bashing a beta is absurd. If you really wanted to publish something worthwhile you could change this to “How Chrome OS should be improved” and then talk about what you wanted to be fixed. Not point out what the beta lacks.

        • Xavier Lanier says

          As I mentioned before, Google’s not really concerned about cost here- sending out 60k Chrome Notebooks is already what most of us would consider ridiculously expensive. Adding a GPU, a non-Atom processor, etc. wouldn’t dent Google’s bottom line. The Cr-48 is representative of what will ship. It might not be exactly the same, but it has all of the key tenants Google discussed at the Chrome event- long battery life, 3G, full-sized keyboard, no local storage, etc. This is far beyond a prototype and Google released it to the media and its users asking for feedback/criticism.
          Most of my criticisms above have nothing to do with beta/non-beta OS. They have to do with the concept and implementation.
          There are a lot of things that I DO LIKE about the Chrome Cr-48 laptop, but as the article of this title states- the average consumer will not buy this notebook or anything like it unless it’s priced extremely aggressively ($200, $100 or less).

          Technology, including anu OS, does not live in a bubble. Do you really think the masses are going to stop taking GBs of photos and HD video any time soon? Google’s cloud concept is great for some needs, but it completely ignores a lot of other needs that are better addressed by Windows or OSX.

        • Xavier Lanier says

          As I mentioned before, Google’s not really concerned about cost here- sending out 60k Chrome Notebooks is already what most of us would consider ridiculously expensive. Adding a GPU, a non-Atom processor, etc. wouldn’t dent Google’s bottom line. The Cr-48 is representative of what will ship. It might not be exactly the same, but it has all of the key tenants Google discussed at the Chrome event- long battery life, 3G, full-sized keyboard, no local storage, etc. This is far beyond a prototype and Google released it to the media and its users asking for feedback/criticism.
          Most of my criticisms above have nothing to do with beta/non-beta OS. They have to do with the concept and implementation.
          There are a lot of things that I DO LIKE about the Chrome Cr-48 laptop, but as the article of this title states- the average consumer will not buy this notebook or anything like it unless it’s priced extremely aggressively ($200, $100 or less).

          Technology, including anu OS, does not live in a bubble. Do you really think the masses are going to stop taking GBs of photos and HD video any time soon? Google’s cloud concept is great for some needs, but it completely ignores a lot of other needs that are better addressed by Windows or OSX.

        • Xavier Lanier says

          As I mentioned before, Google’s not really concerned about cost here- sending out 60k Chrome Notebooks is already what most of us would consider ridiculously expensive. Adding a GPU, a non-Atom processor, etc. wouldn’t dent Google’s bottom line. The Cr-48 is representative of what will ship. It might not be exactly the same, but it has all of the key tenants Google discussed at the Chrome event- long battery life, 3G, full-sized keyboard, no local storage, etc. This is far beyond a prototype and Google released it to the media and its users asking for feedback/criticism.
          Most of my criticisms above have nothing to do with beta/non-beta OS. They have to do with the concept and implementation.
          There are a lot of things that I DO LIKE about the Chrome Cr-48 laptop, but as the article of this title states- the average consumer will not buy this notebook or anything like it unless it’s priced extremely aggressively ($200, $100 or less).

          Technology, including anu OS, does not live in a bubble. Do you really think the masses are going to stop taking GBs of photos and HD video any time soon? Google’s cloud concept is great for some needs, but it completely ignores a lot of other needs that are better addressed by Windows or OSX.

        • Xavier Lanier says

          As I mentioned before, Google’s not really concerned about cost here- sending out 60k Chrome Notebooks is already what most of us would consider ridiculously expensive. Adding a GPU, a non-Atom processor, etc. wouldn’t dent Google’s bottom line. The Cr-48 is representative of what will ship. It might not be exactly the same, but it has all of the key tenants Google discussed at the Chrome event- long battery life, 3G, full-sized keyboard, no local storage, etc. This is far beyond a prototype and Google released it to the media and its users asking for feedback/criticism.
          Most of my criticisms above have nothing to do with beta/non-beta OS. They have to do with the concept and implementation.
          There are a lot of things that I DO LIKE about the Chrome Cr-48 laptop, but as the article of this title states- the average consumer will not buy this notebook or anything like it unless it’s priced extremely aggressively ($200, $100 or less).

          Technology, including anu OS, does not live in a bubble. Do you really think the masses are going to stop taking GBs of photos and HD video any time soon? Google’s cloud concept is great for some needs, but it completely ignores a lot of other needs that are better addressed by Windows or OSX.

  1. Petty says

    some of these reasons are not valid. storage, graphics, peripherals.
    the cr-48 is a test model. the hardware is just enough to run the software and for you to use it. they are giving away a reported 60,000 of them for free, paying for overnight shipping on thousands of those. that alone should tell you that they didnt invest a whole lot into giving you a quality product. when they are released for public sale, they will likely have more storage space, and/or at least the option for more. the graphics will likely be better, because the screen will likely not be the cheapest one they could find. they will quite possibly have at least one more usb port, and possibly more peripheral options.

    if you are going to criticize it, you need to stick to the operating system and its limitations, cause like i said, im pretty sure the cr-48 laptop itself was just slapped together with some of the cheapest parts they could get. otherwise, you need to make it clear that the product you are reviewing is a test model and many aspects of it, especially hardware limitations, are subject to and very likely to change.

    @WarnerCrocker & Xavier Lanier: true, the cr-48 model will not be for sale, but acer and samsung are supposed to be releasing chromeOS notebooks mid-2011. features, in terms of OS and software will be pretty much the same. there has been no information on hardware specs.

    • Xavier Lanier says

      1) Thanks for your your long reply. We love having discussions like this with our readers here at GBM. Google doesn’t spare expenses and this is an example of that. I don’t think they cheaped out on hardware for the sake of saving a few bucks. They gave us something that’s representative of what’s on the drawing board for final release. If they wanted to save some cash they would have simply built less pilot notebooks. Google’s spent up to $500,000 in cash to retain employees who’ve received offers. On some projects, Googlers are given blank checks to complete 7-digit projects. Anywhere else they’d have to jump through hoops to get budgets approved. Money is not the issue here.
      The hardware itself is a step up in quality from what you’ll find on a netbook. It’s sturdy and has some high-quality/not cheap components.

      2) It’s not a matter of moving my entire media collection. You can’t store any of it locally. Google suggests signing up for a paid streaming service. In the final Chrome notebook products you’ll be able to plug in a hard drive if you want to send songs up to the cloud. But if you want to listen to those songs you’ll need to stream them using a service/online media player.

      3) The screen is actually pretty nice. As I mentioned in a previous part of the review, I prefer bright matte displays like the one found in the Cr-48. The problem is the graphics solution, which at this time is Intel GMA.

      4) Peripherals- I’m not sure what else you’d like me to try out here, but like I said support is pretty lacking. Printers, scanners, iPods/Zunes and anything else that requires a driver doesn’t work with the Cr-48. As I mentioned in my previous article, JPG’s don’t show up when I plug in my CF camera card adapter. Hard drives aren’t of much use as all of your files are stored in the cloud. I haven’t tried pluggin in a monitor via the VGA port, but you can forget about using another peripheral that I like – DisplayLink adapters that allow for multiple monitors to be used by laptops with only a single video out port.

      Fixed a typo above- the Plantronics Voyager Pro+ is my favorite Bluetooth headset and it comes with a USB dongle. So far, I haven’t been able to get it to work properly with the dongle, which makes my voice sound MUCH beter compared to built-in BT on other notebooks.

      5) I’ll criticize anything with a power switch that shows up on my doorstep, as it shows up on my doorstep. If you’re expecting to see a bunch of slick hardware and high-end components in the final Chrome notebook release you’ll be sorely disappointed.

      The hardware in the Cr-48 is in the $500 range. There’s no way they could sell it for $99 unless it was subsidized by Verizon or Google Ads.

      6) Developing Web apps is a completely different animal than developing mobile apps. I don’t think developers will do all that work to develop a good cloud/web app and then limit it to just Chrome users.

      • Josh Knutson says

        Xavier, as I have been a developer working on web applications for a while, they do not just run in chrome. There is a lot of times when creating the applications that you can have the same application use different stylesheets based on media queries to look and feel like a native app for handheld/mobile/tablet/desktop, whatever the medium might be. Granted if you know you can develop for the latest browsers first, and add the extra overhead to deal with Internet Explorer later on. Normally on any web application I develop first for Firefox, then Chrome, then see what doesn’t look correct in Internet Explorer.

        • Xavier Lanier says

          Yes, I’m aware that some applications don’t just run in browsers they’re not designed for, but it’s a relatively minor tweak. I don’t think developers are going to ignore FF, IE, etc. in favor of Chrome. Just browse over to the NY Times Chrome ‘app.’

      • rwmuller says

        Short point. No need to use a paid streaming service. Run Subsonic and use dyndns.com to link to your desktop. Pick a port (not 80) and you have your music at your finger tips. A small donation gets you support for IOS.

  2. Robert Damian Mauro says

    Wow, you don’t seem to have any idea of what Cloud Computing is, or what it can be. This device WILL be the forerunner for an entire “new” model of connected computing. “The Cloud” is far more than what’s shown in the idiotic Microsoft ads that are geared at trying to gain customers by repeatedly using a buzz-word they dont seem to understand.

    Off the top of my head, I could name a few dozen markets for such devices, and numerous reasons/methods it’ll do all many people need to, but alas, I don’t feel like wasting my time. I’ll blog about it elsewhere.

    • Xavier Lanier says

      Thanks for commenting Robert. I have a very solid idea of what cloud computing is/can be. As much as I’d love to see a third viable desktop OS, Chrome OS just isn’t going to fly for most consumers in its current state.
      I know a ton of cloud computing professionals. I’ve yet to meet one that uses a thin client (which this essentially is) by choice. Lots of Macs/PCs at Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Google, etc…
      I don’t think Chrome OS is anywhere close to being ready for prime time in the enterprise. That all may change in the next six months, but like I said above -there are simply too many trade offs right now.

      • Robert Damian Mauro says

        Ah… ok, I understand where you are coming from then. But look at the long term. There are a LOT of businesses that look forward to something like this. This type of setup is now also becoming mandatory for many government agencies. There are a number (perhaps not large) of people in the general public who are interested in this.

        So, with it being pushed into businesses and government in probably very large numbers, it creates momentum. And like the Android Marketplace with a few hundred apps… well, back when the G1 came out, it creates time for public apps in the Chrome App Store – all while proprietary apps and cloud services are being used for the business and government customers.

        During this buildout which will be comprised of enthusiasts, techies, the people (such as a lot of our customers) who simply need email, web and maybe online video, businesses, and government; there will be time to develop and/or refine regular end user apps and “experiences” which will put this into the realm of devices that can be mass marketed with success.

        Oh, as for thin clients, CompUSA used to use a bunch (Windows based). IBM sold a LOT of thin clients based on WorkSpace on Demand and OS/2. Nowadays, thin clients don’t do too hot for a few reasons: (1) Microsoft no longer has a lean enough version of Windows to support the thin client paradigm properly, (2a) since most people use Windows, a thin client needs to be Windows based – but Microsoft still charges (or did last time I checked) for a full client license – all for (2b) hardware that pretty much needs to be a FULL computer to run their “thin” client. With those factors considered, the thin client model has pretty much died – not because there isn’t a market for it, but simply because the company that gained control of that market crippled it with a very fat “thin client” that costs just as much as running a PC with a full client OS.

        Enter a device that can be a true thin client… :-) As I said, with the right back end in place, the company I work for could sell a few thousand of these a year – just to one type of business, and just to those businesses within 30-50 miles of us. They all want such a solution for a variety of reasons, and Apple isn’t in that market, while Microsoft doesnt have any acceptable solutions in that market.

  3. Gilbert says

    Pricing would be pivotal. They need to compete against Tablets. This is the real competitor.

    The idea here being that these laptops would be bought instead of a tablet. Tablets are sort of thin clients.

    The real reason one would buy a Chrome OS based laptop would be as a supplementary computer. Just like you wouldn’t expect to use all your peripherals on an iOS device you can’t expect to use them on a Chrome OS laptop.

    I believe cloud computing is headed towards a Citrix or RDP solution. Eventually I see thin clients as little more than a screen and input.

    To take it further any non-battery-powered client would donate it’s idle cycles towards the processing of a network task. Meaning instead of a one way street, clients would add to the network resources. So that the cloud actually benefits incrementally as the number of clients increases.

    The time we are in now is only the beginning.

    • Xavier Lanier says

      Thanks for the comment Gilbert. Good point about tablets as competition, but that means Chrome will be battling against Android tablets. One of the big reasons that the iPad has been a hit is all the purpose-built apps.

      You’re not alone in believing that Citrix/RDP is the future, but there’s a long history there and this is hardly just the beginning. The move to the cloud is taking decades, not months or years. There will always be road blocks to cloud computing and there are some things that just make a lot more sense to do on local machines, no matter the form factor.

      • Gilbert says

        Android tablets are for those who are comfortable with a touch screen. A Chrome OS notebook is for email junkies and for those who feel lost without a keyboard. Besides, a notebook you don’t have to hold at all just lay it on your lap and read. Touchscreens are not exclusive to the tablet they can be applied to a Chrome laptops. But seriously holding a tablet for long periods of time is annoying.

        You could also dual boot a notebook to either Android or Chrome, but that would be inelegant. I wonder maybe something like the HTC Shift of old would play in this field. Where both OS’s are running but hibernate when not actively used. I’m sure the speed of switching could now be achieved as to be instant.

        About it being a long history, in computer terms it has. In 30+ years technology has advanced in many ways. But remember technology progresses exponentially and to achieve the same amount of progress that it took 30 years to do, it will only take at most 7 years now. Then there are those breakthroughs that add even more momentum such as when the iPhone was introduced. In 4 years innovation in the cell phone arena progressed at least 10 times in intuiveness and ability.

        Whether there will always be roadblocks. Well, always is a very long time. And not all roadblocks need to be overcomed some could simply be adapted around.

        The beginning I mean as in mainstream.

        The business landscape has matured in this respect. I used to work in two different companies which each applied cloud computing. One was purely Citrix/RDP. You could walk into any computer and log in to your Profile and do all your computing. In the other it was a browser based application. We even had a direct line to the developers who would apply any adaptations within 24 hours. Such as a request for a new menu item that would produce a certain report or a change to the layout of the application headings.

        • Yogh says

          You say Android is for those comfortable without a touchscreen and Chrome OS is for people who are lost without a keyboard. However, Google is introducing Chrome OS to push the envelope and change the OS landscape. I don’t think they’re going to achieve that simply by making it an alternative to Android that works with an antiquated input method.

        • Gilbert says

          In any case these are all valid points and I enjoy the brainstorming of possibilities of what is to come.

          Xavier, thanks for this article. I like your style and I appreciate when a writer puts this much effort into an article. Too many writers now a days type two paragraphs and call it a day.

  4. Anonymous says

    Not to use a cliche, but I think you need to work outside of the box when using this device. You have to start thinking like a cloud user; not a windows or mac user. We are quickly moving to a App based computing, and those apps need to span devices. The best solution for this is the cloud.

    Also you need to keep in mind that this is a beta release, things are still moving forward and if you peek just a little under the hood of the CR-48 you will see the a glimpse of the future…

    So without going any further, please type “about:Flags” into your CR-48 and see whats available. Enable the advanced file manager, turn on the media player, poke around a bit.

    1) No Applications
    “People will avoid Chrome OS notebooks for one of the biggest reasons they avoid MacBooks: Lack of Applications.”

    I agree with this to a certain extent, however, it would be nice if you could give an example of which applications you are thinking of. Some, obviously, would not be an appropriate use case for the device, some already have web based alternatives, and some will be made if the demand is there.

    2) No local Storage
    “The Cr-48 comes with a 16GB SSD that can’t be used to store media files….Sure, people enjoy accessing their photos on the web, but they don’t want to wait hours to upload a GB of photos to the web when returning from vacation before they can do anything with them.”

    This is just simply not true. Go to Amazon, find a free song you’d like and download it. What do you know, there it is on your SSD. Media stored locally. If you need more than about the 10GBs available to you locally, a cloud solution is probably better anyway. That way you’re not syncing massive amounts of data between all your devices. I have never understood the need to carry around locally 500gb of data that I could not possibly consume in two weeks time. With cloud storage I have access to all my media, whether its from my home server with a TB of storage, or my cell phone with only 8gb. Other than professional/hobbyist photographers, the camera in our phones is how most of us take pictures…even on vacation. And those folks don’t take GB of photos. However even if they do, there is no reason these photos can’t be uploaded immediately after taking them…no need to wait. Photoshop.com, for instance, sits on my phone and syncs my pictures directory to my online account constantly.

    3) The Chrome OS Browser Doesn’t Work Everywhere
    “For example, the Cr-48 can’t play Netflix videos. Instead of being able to watch videos in the Watch Instantly section, Chrome OS users are greeted with a message about how they need to use OSX or Windows to stream movies. With a Mac or PC, the simple answer to sites that don’t like your browser is to download another browser. You can’t do that with the Cr-48.”

    You are really mixing things up here, you state that the solution is to switch browsers and then state that that Netflix requires OSX or Windows. The truth is, Netflix doesn’t support Linux, regardless of whether you use Chrome or Firefox. Its not really a browser thing, its more of a DRM, Silverlight thing. That being said, they have produced Apps for nearly every other platform out there. I imagine that they will produce one for ChromeOS as well (provided there is a demand)

    4. This is simply a rant and your own personal opinion/guess. ChromeOS may not be for you, but its perfect for both my daughter and my mother.

    5. Agreed. This will be the number one problem with a device like this. The US desperately needs a better Mobile Broadband solution.

    6. I had no trouble playing youtube videos in 480p fullscreen. Hulu is another matter entirely. That being said. This is more of a Hardware issue than a software issue. And where the software fails its mostly due to Adobe, not Google. I would hope that Adobe can get their act together before release and perhaps a better SOC (Tegra 2?) solution for the Hardware. Additionally, there is always the possibility that a dedicated App for these sites would provide a solution.

    7. Where the heck is 7?

    8) Minimal Peripheral Support
    “To talk about printing as a feature in the year 2010 is ridiculous. Like with everything else, printing is only supported via the cloud. You can forget about using your my favorite Bluetooth headset with the Cr-48. You can also forget about shuffling files back forth to your iPad. Need to scan some documents or photos with your fancy all-in-one? Good luck with that.”

    a. Very Snarky.
    b. Do you know what beta means?
    IMHO talking about printing at all in 2010 is ridiculous. I haven’t had to print anything from my personal computer in over 2 years. As for a business solution, Cloud Print is a work in progress and any business that would deploy ChromeOS to its users would surely implement it on their print server. Bluetooth, they are working on it. And the file “shuffling” problem is EXCATLY the problem the cloud is trying to solve. Get a document is your email? Save it to GDocs, now its available for all you devices. A photo? Forward it to your Picasa account or upload it to Facebook, Photoshop.com, flickr, etc.

    9) The Chrome Web store Sucks-
    Today, yes. Tomorrow…? There is at least six months for apps to be made before the true release of this product. By then I anticipate more “true” apps, not just links. I have faith it will improve.

    10) Macs and Windows PCs are Better
    This all depends on ones needs and price. If (and this is a big if) the price can come in under $300 (the price of a cell phone) it may be a winner. But in truth this an example of right tool for the job/person. There are plenty of folks I know who “live” in the browser.

    The future:
    If you went to about:flags you can see some of what the future may hold. A built in media player for local storage (only works for mp3 at the moment as far as I can tell). The advance file sytem, recognizes and mounts usb/sd storage (can’t access files yet) and allows for creating separate directories. Remoting and Background WebApps! There is a lot possibilities in those two alone. Give it time, and when ChromeOS is feature complete have another look.

    In conclusion, yes I agree ChromeOS may not be perfect for everyone. I do however see two groups who would like this device. First people like my daughter and mother. They spend 100% of their time in the browser; emailing, creating documents, facebooking, listening to Pandora, chatting. (My son on the other hand would hate it since he’s a gamer). The second group is for folks like me. As you stated its a perfect device as a secondary mobile machine. But I would go a bit further. I think it will be a perfect primary device to interface with the cloud, cell phone, and home server.

  5. iQuack says

    Google notebook makes sense as an auxiliary internet computer only if it’s cheap. Very cheap!

  6. lonelywind says

    If it had the capability to upload a security certificate and run the Citrix ICA Web Client, it would be a perfect solution for our company. We maintain an inventory of notebooks for checkout use, for people on business trips, medical leave, etc., and it would allow them to connect to my company’s system and work online. Unfortunately, Chrome (at present) will not connect using the Citrix ICA Web Client, even on a Windows-based notebook.

  7. Todd says

    You do know what a “prototype” is, right?

    You do know that, unlike OSX which has had over ten years of work, the OS itself is still in development, right?

    You do know that the graphics performance is an artifact more of the Flash build, not the raw hardware, right?

    You do know that modern “netbooks” had forerunners that weren’t nearly as fast or convenient, and mostly weren’t available in the US, right? (I had one myself in 2004 — the JVC MP-XV841US. The motherboard says right on the silkscreen “ASUS EPC”. I’ll give you seven hundred and one guesses as to what that machine’s design later became.)

    Finally, you do know that small SSD machines actually have pretty good acceptance by _consumer_ users — by that, I don’t mean the typically tech-savvy, right?

    If you said “no” to any of the above, you forgot to do your homework.

    I’m going to need magnetic boots to keep the slant from making me slide right off the side of this article.

    [edit: fixed typo in the JVC Mini Note's model number.]

  8. あゆみ~ん says

    I love my Google Notebook and it has /almost/ replaced my current netbook. Almost, I say. If I did have to pay about $300 for this thing /right now/, I would laugh and stay satisfied with my Eee 701 (the one with only 4GB of space? yeah, that one, I’m a freakin’ early adopter and I love it) because it is lacking in several areas that would keep me from replacing a netbook that’s primarily being used to access the internet and IRC.

    Most of the lacking is in the OS. It’s not ready for primetime, although the internet and various users are almost ready for such a device. Not everybody on the internet is a power computer user and this could be the perfect device/OS for someone who solely uses the internet and has very little need for all the extra bells and whistles (as well as the viruses/malware that they don’t know how to deal with) a full computer has to offer. It also makes for a great secondary/travel system. I’m a desktop lover and if I need to do something intensive, I’m at my desktop. I have no problem with it. If I’m away from my desktop and have to do something intensive, I make it work when I have to. And I’d rather like it that way.

    But seriously, right now, not going to cut it 100% of the time. In the future, yes. Yes yes please yes. So I have to say, your judgement is a bit premature and just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that it won’t work in others’ situations.

  9. Ian Ray says

    The kindle doesn’t handle HD video editing and it seems to be doing okay.

    The iPad received endless criticism for “not being able to type on a real keyboard” and how many million of those have been sold?

    The original Asus netbooks like what あゆみ~んtalked about with the Eee 701 and so on… people laughed at that idea and laughed at Johnny Shih. Pundits said c’mon an underpowered notebook that can’t render Pixar movies or play the latest FPS games… why would anyone buy one? And now Asus is one of the top 5 computer makers. They rank right up there with Apple for customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, the new tech underdogs are emerging: Dell, HP, and Microsoft.

    This is not some completely ridiculous product like the G4 Cube or that HP tablet computer running Windows 7. This Chrome machine is going to be a real play for email-centric user dollars in both business and consumer space. This machine isn’t competing with the MacBook Air any more than Schwinn competes with Bentley.

    • Jamar Jones says

      The price is going to dictate what people compare it to. If it is sun $200.00USD it’ll have no competition and possibly highly successful. If it is $300.00USD+ it’ll be compared to laptops and tablets which it cannot compete with.

  10. Rafael says

    Ten years ago the big argument was between Netflix and Blockbuster never netflix was going to be able to compete, today we know what happened. To more than 10% of computer users Chrome OS is going to be the perfect system. 10% is more than Apple share think about before dismissing Chrome OS as a viable OS for Notebooks.

  11. SPT says

    Some comments on your main points:

    1) No Applications
    What? Haven’t you heard of the web browser and the Internet? Apparently we spend 80% of our time on that application, and for leisure, this can be 100%. As for Email, office apps, video editing, photo editing etc. between Google Apps and Gmail, Microsoft Exchange owa, Microsoft Azure, corporate web apps, corporate Windows desktop applications via the Citrix client, all the important applications for both casual and corporate users are covered. If you need to do heavy work with Photoshop, heavy duty 1080p video editing, CAD or something similar, you are looking at a high end workstation, not a Chrome OS netbook (or for that matter a Windows netbook either).

    Applications that will come include 3D games and movies. Chrome OS and HTML5 and associated 3D web technologies are brand spanking new, so these aren’t available apart from demos now.

    2) No local Storage
    I believe you should be able to download and upload to/from the SD drive slot and USB storage, however Google has said there is a bug in this feature. Presumably this will be fixed.

    3) The Chrome OS Browser Doesn’t Work Everywhere
    This is mainly due to non-support of ActiveX which is a major security risk if activated. Use of IE8 is enforced at my office, and I have actually found more sites don’t work properly with IE8 than Chrome browser because it doesn’t support HTML5 as well, and unfortunately my office is run by network nazis who won’t install IE9. Requiring IE is a rapidly dissapearing problem with IE declining below 60% share and heading downward. It will disappear faster with massive numbers of Androids, iPhones, Blackberries, iPod touches, iPads etc. coming onto the Internet. Companies will lose market share if their websites are not compatible with all major browsers, and there are always other sites or companies (usually banks) which do support web compliant HTML. In the case of a company and its intranet servers, changing web pages to standards compliant W3C compatible HTML format will of course be coordinated with the browsers the company deploys.

    4) Too Much Dog Food?
    Try cat food for a change.

    5) Verizon 3G is Too Expensive
    Use WiFi hotspots and WiFi at home/office. It is pretty ubiquitous and free. 3G is only for emergency use.

    6) Graphics are Horrible
    This is a prototype with graphics acceleration and movie acceleration incomplete. Flash is crappy on an Atom without graphics acceleration. Adobe is supposedly working on it. Graphics should be stunning on a dual core ARM/Tegra2 based netbook with graphics and movie acceleration, even with 1080p video.

    7) Cost
    You will find out when it goes on sale, but it is easy to work out the price from the current price of similar spec’ed netbooks. Because the OS is stripped down, it should be cheaper that a netbook or laptop with similar preformance.

    8) Minimal Peripheral Support
    USB stuff should work, including a USB mouse, USB storage on cameras and video cameras will work once the USB file access bug is fixed. No other place to plug in periperials really. I guess this is because few people carry a printer and a tangle of cables with their netbook – far better to use Google Cloud Print service. It could do with an ethernet socket or a chargeing and Ethernet docking port, but I guess Google left it out on the Cr 48 because they wanted users to test out and return feedback on the WiFi and 3G usability – it would be stupid to pay for these netbooks to be shipped out at great expense if people are just going to plug it into the LAN to sane money and not going to test the WiFi and 3G connectivity which is the crucial test for cloud clients to be viable as mobile devices rather than nettop devices.

    9) The Chrome Web store Sucks
    Naturally, HTML5, WebGL, WebM ia all new technology and is still developing, and most apps are currently demos. Dynamic web apps as opposed to old style web pages still need to appear from third parties other than Google Zoho etc.

    10) Macs and Windows PCs are Better
    At what? Internet browsing? Absolutely not. Other things perhaps, but they are also better at picking up viruses and malware, becoming messed up and unstable, and requiring lots of time spent on application installation, configuration, maintenance, defragging, reinstallation etc. (although apart from the configuration and maintenance, maybe not for the Mac).

  12. Ddanielmilton says

    I have to honestly say, once I recieved my Cr-48 I was astonished by the lack of…well, everything. But then I cracked into it, and I have to say, my experience between this and my gaming notebook, the only difference between the two would have to be the fact that i can run legitimation gaming software on m gaming notebook. Being that Chrome OS (aka Chromium) was purely built as a mobile on the go OS that can start up in a split second(10-15 sec) check email, check facebook, etc that is purely web based surfing, it isnt meant to be a main computing system in the main family room.

    So honestly your “10 reasons” is completely off, your trying to honestly compare two different styles of OS….as one commenter said, this is purely a tablet put into the form of a notebook…its going to rival the tablet market. On a second note, remember android is google….or atleast google was part of the forming and programming of android.

    Anyways, purely based upon my experience between this and my other computing systems, i have to say, for a “prototype” machine, i would have to say this is exactly what Google wanted.

    As for power and expansion….WHY? why would i wanna drown the CR-48 with pointless information and programs that eventually we will stop using, why make it more powerful when in fact, it runs faster then my netbook on unbuntu, my gaming notebook on win7, or my gaming tower on win7….it surfs the internet faster, and boots faster….period…hook line sinker, thats what this things was built for

  13. Benjamin Philion says

    A web based OS. ARghhhh. C’mon What a piece of crapy crap. The chrome store is nothing more than web apps on steroids. My bet is , there is little to no market for this kind of product. You go full blown OS or you go tablet. Chroms OS is already dead. Android killed it.

  14. windowssucks says

    I always thought the need for Google Chrome OS is based on two things: 1) people are sick to death of Windows (things that don’t work and can’t be fixed unless you have a degree in computer science, requires frequent updates, antivirus/antimalware/firewall absolutely required which itself causes many problems), and 2) 90% of what most people do only requires a browser. In short, Windows is a pointless waste of time and effort.

    One of the main reasons I am able to keep Windows working is because of Google. If you are having a problem with something in Windows, then odds are there are millions of others who have already experienced the same problem. The answer to your problem isn’t likely to come up on a Microsoft forum or troubleshooting built into Windows (that has NEVER helped; Microsoft could drop their feeble attempt at troubleshooting and nobody would notice). More likely, the answer will come up somewhere other than a Microsoft/Windows related forum. The point is, the current desktop computing model closes you off from other users. You are made to feel like the issue you are experiencing is your issue only. Don’t kid yourself: problems you encounter are also encountered by many, many other people. An OS that takes advantage of the user-base is going to be better; I think Google gets this. That’s why they gave out so many laptops: they’ll get it right (hopefully) right out of the gate. I hope they’ll also make cloud support work (for users and for improving the OS).

    The focus here seems to be on the hardware. That’s the wrong mentality. Do you really enjoy spending your life figuring out why your software doesn’t work with your hardware and finding out you have to upgrade your hardware to run the software or get the driver from the computer vendor instead of the driver built into Windows or you have to make a registry edit (dangerous even for experienced users). This is your life people! There are some who enjoy doing this stuff but a lot of people have better things to do. It’s outrageous! Better to let an expert handle the hardware when possible (cloud storage) or at least figure out what driver is needed when you have to use your own hardware (USB hard drive). Drivers need to be smarter.

    Cloud printing is one small example of the promise of Chrome (not the implementation (yet), but the idea) and how drivers can be smarter. If I buy a printer, I shouldn’t have to worry about the OS being able to interface to it; that should not be my job. Hardware does identify itself but perhaps not well enough; if it did identify itself well enough, there wouldn’t be a problem finding drivers. In any case, I would rather not have to worry about finding/installing drivers. I am happy to let Google figure this out.

    I want the OS to be invisible and reliable and usable. I think Google gets that.

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