Then there's the reality that Google's fundamental approach to technology contradicts IT's approach. IT needs a stable, long-term platform. "That's not the Google way," Mainelli says. Google updates the OS regularly with no rollback provision, for example. iOS has the same issue, but businesses have apparently come to terms with that due to its many other advantages. "I'm consistently amazed by the number of enterprises rolling out iPad implementations," he says.
Perhaps more damning is Google's history of routinely launching and shutting down projects, which contributes to a basic lack of trust in the Chrome OS's longevity. Google claims it's committed, but its actions elsewhere instill major doubt that the commitment will last.
Mainelli also notes that the whole notion of thin client computing has been around 15 years, with little uptake beyond a few narrow industries like health care. "It's always on the cusp," he says. The Chromebook's thin client focus is not where the action is, even if IT were comfortable in Google's commitment.
Mainelli says businesses that have adopted Google Docs might be where the Chromebook's thin client promise would gain traction. (For the rest, "it's a nonstarter.") But so far, businesses and agencies that have adopted Google Docs aren't adopting Chromebooks. Instead, they're using regular PCs, which give them access to other resources and job-specific apps that a Chromebook can't access.
All of this could change over the next several years, of course. Wireless Internet ubiquity could solve the offline issue, the rise of HTML5 could make seriously useful Web apps common for any browser, and Windows 8, Mac OS X, and iOS could become so ungainly that simplicity becomes a meaningful selling point.
Never say never, but you can trust me that if a Chromebook appeals to you conceptually, this Christmas is not the time to act on that appeal.
This article, "Thinking of a Chromebook for Christmas? Wait until 2016," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.