The latter part of 2013 was marked with many debates on many topics, but the Great Chromebook Debate that questioned the viability and practicality of Chromebooks was one of the most lively of the bunch. There were tech bloggers who just couldn’t see the wisdom of the Chrome browser based laptops and there were an equal number of defenders of Google’s push into laptop land. Microsoft apparently felt threatened enough by Chromebooks to launch a negative ad campaign that featured, among other highlights (lowlights?), the Pawn Stars telling us how bad of a deal Chromebooks were. Of course in the end these kind of debates are meaningless and it all comes down to what consumers think and purchase.
On the day after Christmas 2013 it looks like Chromebooks were leading sellers, at least on Amazon.com. According to Amazon’s post Christmas press release, two of the top three selling laptops were Chromebooks. The 11 inch Samsung Chromebook which could be found for as low as $192 (it is now priced at $243.22), and the Acer C720 Chromebook at $199 were two of the top three sellers at Amazon. The Windows 8.1 based Asus Transformer T100TA was also among the top three with prices that ranged from $400 to $900.
The Chromebook is a browser based laptop that uses Google’s Chrome browser as its operating system. The target market is those consumers who only want a computer to do email, web browsing, video browsing and some document creation. The concept makes quite a bit of sense for those consumers, instead of purchasing a full-fledged Windows or Mac based laptop that are usually more expensive. But without a traditional operating system, and the reliance on having a broadband connection, the concept doesn’t make quite as much sense to those with more traditional needs. Or maybe that’s those with more traditional closed minds.
Whether or not this puts an end to the debate about Chromebook viability and practicality, who knows. We haven’t heard reports yet from other retailers and an argument can be made that some purchases intended for gifting to others don’t have legs in terms of long term use by those receiving the gifts. But at least at the largest online retailer the lower price point of these specific Chromebooks had appeal to consumers. And price is certainly a feature that matters to many.
By the way, if you’re looking for some interesting statistics and fun retail facts, the Amazon post Christmas Press Release contains quite a list of those and might be worth a read.