I have been using the test version of the Google Chromebook, the Cr-48, since mid-December, 2010. For the most part, my experience has been positive and I have enjoyed the pint sized laptop computer. There have been some issues that Google has fixed with numerous updates during the past six months, which have fixed or repaired some of the minor annoyances that many of us beta testers complained about. Over all, the technicians at Google have been responsive to complaints, however, their work is far from finished. I am still waiting for the time that I can use Google Docs offline without a Wi-Fi or 3G Internet connection.
It has been about six weeks since the first Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung hit the streets and, outside of a smattering of lackluster reviews, not much more is being said about the laptops featuring the Google Chrome OS. Last night I checked the bestsellers list on Amazon, and I saw that the Acer Chromebook Wi-Fi only model — priced at $349 — was listed as the 7th top selling laptop computer on Amazon. The Samsung 3G model Chromebook — priced at $499 — was listed as Amazon’s 17th top seller.
I personally believe that these sales numbers, if accurate, indicate that the Google Chromebooks are selling well. Though we won’t know for sure just how well the Chromebooks are selling until the final sales numbers are released, the Chromebooks certainly do appear to show promise. I also believe that the current crop of Chromebooks are still expensive for the hardware you get. Several weeks ago, Staples was selling a Toshiba 17″ with 6 GB, 500 GB hard disk, burner, Web cam, and microphone for just $449.
I realize that few of us want to lug around a laptop that weighs six pounds or more, but my point is the cost of the hardware. Samsung has stated that the cost of the hardware for its Chromebook is $322, which it justifies for the high price of $499 for the cheap model. Which makes me ask how can Toshiba sell a superior laptop with more hardware for less? I know one cannot compare a full size laptop to a Chromebook, but I believe this is where the Chromebook may struggle in the future.
While testing the Cr-48 Chromebook, most of the members of the Google forum set up for discussing the Cr-48 felt that any pricing over $250 or more would be a deal breaker. I still believe this holds true. I believe Google is going to struggle trying to sell the Chromebooks while pricing remains high.
In addition, the company faces an uphill battle against the tablet computers, especially from the top selling Apple iPad. The Chromebook could turn out to be the right product, but just at the wrong time. I personally would buy a tablet over a Chromebook. What about you?