Why Chromebooks Will Appeal to the Enterprise
By Jack Rosenberger
I visited the Hewlett-Packard website on Tuesday night and was surprised to discover that the HP Pavilion Chromebook was sold out (and remains so). It was released just 16 days ago, and it’s unknown whether the HP’s web-based Chromebook is sold out due to high demand, low supply, or some vexing combination of these or other factors. HP hasn’t made any announcements about the Pavilion Chromebook being out of stock, and my emailed query to an HP representative remains unanswered at press time. However, the HP Pavilion Chromebook is the most corporate-friendly Chromebook to date, based on its 14-inch diagonal display and security features, and as I stared at the “Out of Stock” notice on the Pavilion Chromebook’s webpage the other night, I began to think about why Chromebooks might find a useful niche in the corporate enterprise. Here are five reasons:
The HP Pavilion Chromebook comes with a 14-inch diagonal display, 1.1 GHz Celeron processor and 2 GB of RAM for only $329.99. Likewise, Chromebooks with slightly smaller 11.6-inch or 12.1-inch displays from Acer and Samsung typically list for $249 or $350. Almost any comparable Windows- or iOS-based laptops will cost significantly more.
Chromebooks are gaining popularity in the education enterprise, and schools and schools districts are increasingly buying Acer, Samsung, and Lenovo Chromebooks for their classrooms. Why? Google sponsored an IDC report on the topic, Quantifying the Economic Value of Chromebooks for K-12 Education, which found that Chromebooks require 69 percent less labor to deploy and 92 percent less labor to support.
Ubiquitous Web Access
The chief drawback of Chromebooks is their dependence on the web. If you’re not connected to the web, you can’t access your cloud-based files. However, our society is gradually moving toward ubiquitous or near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage, especially in urban areas, and the widespread availability of Wi-Fi will overcome the Chromebook’s weakness in connectivity.
By all appearances, Google is committed to Chromebooks, and they are improving in quality and variety. This time last year only Acer and Samsung offered Chromebooks; today Acer and Samsung are joined by HP and Lenovo, and it is possible that Sony might join the party. Also, Google plans to release its own touchscreen Chromebook later this year. So, it seems fair to say that Chromebooks, like most Google products, will only continue to improve.
The first Chromebooks were announced in May 2011. Less than two years later, they are still a new device and a new way of computing to most people. One of the barriers to Chromebooks is people getting used to the idea of using a web-based computer. Once they do, it will be easier for Chromebooks to gain entry in the corporate enterprise. With familiarity comes acceptance.
One wish: Just as Lenovo has created a Chromebook especially for school classrooms, Google, HP or another company should create a Chromebook especially for the corporate enterprise. If you have any suggestions about specs for such a machine, please write them in our Comments section.
About the Author
Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight.