Google announced Chromebooks just three months ago to both wildly positive and equally negative punditry. (Although I praised the Chomebooks, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman panned them, as did InfoWorld's Neil McAllister in his Test Center review.) But as I evaluate recent product announcements and business growth for Chromebooks, it's becoming increasingly clear that Google has a winner with the Chromebook.
If you haven't been following Chromebooks closely, you'd better start.
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Chromebooks are a disruptive innovation
I have previously countered ZDnet columnist Ed Bott's claims that Chromebooks aren't Windows killers. Here are of two key points I raised:
- Google's pricing strategy is a step toward IT as a service. By cutting the cost per notebook and business applications to approximately $35 per user per month, Google reduced the total cost of ownership to less than 20 percent of today's cost of acquiring, maintaining, and supporting PC laptops via the IT infrastructure needed per knowledge worker.
- All apps that some users need can run in a browser. Simply put, a Chromebook is not for every employee, but a majority of knowledge workers, specialized workers, and mobile users can adopt a Chromebook with little to no detriment to their workflow.
Google continues to make Chromebooks enterprise-ready
Google claims Chromebooks are designed to get better and faster over time through software updates. And it recently announced the availability of new features that support the claim of Chromebooks "getting better" over time.
For example, this week's release of the Chrome OS that Chromebooks run on added VPN support and Secure Wi-Fi. With these two additions, businesses can assure that Chromebook users have protected access to their wireless networks and can restrict remote access to their internal network -- virtually every business I know of wants that.
It was a little surprising that Chromebooks were targeted at businesses without support for Wi-Fi security at a minimum. VPN support would be a close second in basic requirements for a business seeking to use Chromebooks with mobile employees. Although they should have been in the initial release, it's good that Google closed these two holes in just three months since first shipping Chromebooks.