CES 2012: Samsung, Google Won't Let go of Failed Chrome OS, Plan New Models
January 11, 2012 4:00 PM
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New Series 5 Chromebook and Chromebox to launch in Q2 2012
Chrome OS was a pretty nifty idea.
Unveiled back in November 2009
, Chrome OS was supposed to be Google Inc.'s (
) next greatest thing since sliced bread (or ... er Android, we mean). It was biled as a potential "Windows competitor". Instead it saw
delays bump its full-fledged beta December 2010
, and its
commercial release to May 2011
I. Chrome OS: The Flop
That late start didn't help the fledgling OS make its tough case of selling users on Linux. Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (
) $430 USD introductory price point for a Wi-Fi Chromebook and $500 USD price point for a 3G Chromebook definitely didn't help either. And the fact that a notebook relies on internet connections for most of what it does couldn't handle authentication tokens properly, making it
impossible to log in
to coffee shops and networks that use webpage-driven authentication? That was
Unsurprisingly the platform was a sales flop, though we'll never know just how bad a flop as Samsung, Google, and the third Chromebook player Acer, Inc. (
) refused to release sales figures. But Google and Samsung are scrapping Chromebooks. Their response to the failure can be summed up by great lyricist David Bazan:
And I humbly acknowledge.. that I won't always get my way.
But darling death... will have to pry my fingers loose... Cause I will not let go of you.
II. Samsung and Google Man the Deck as Chromebook Ship Takes on Water
At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the pair was back at it again, showing off a pair of Chrome OS devices.
The first is a refreshed Series 5 Chromebook, which still features the same 16 GB of NAND flash storage and 12.1-in. 300 nit screen. The biggest bump is from Atom to a
slightly sportier Core Celeron processor
from Intel Corp. (
). Hopefully this move doesn't backfire in terms of battery life, but only time can tell.
[Image Source: Engadget]
Otherwise the notebook remains practically unchanged, with only a superficial packaging makeover. The new models will continue the slightly reduced most recent pricing of the current Series 5 -- $400 USD for a Wi-Fi only model and $450 USD for a 3G model with service through Verizon Wireless --
Sources were unclear whether the Chromebook refresh would land immediately, though slightly farther out in Q2 2012.
Also slightly farther out in Q2 2012 a "Chromebox" -- a desktop with Chrome OS aboard -- will land courtesy of Samsung. Little is known about the box except for its target price point of $400 USD and its observed ports -- "five USB 2.0 sockets, DVI, DisplayPort and a headphone jack."
[Image Source: Engadget]
Samsung -- perhaps realizing that the device is a weak competitor to HTPCs and Apple, Inc.'s (
) Mac Mini -- hope to peddle the PC to K-12 school buyers on the merits of its small size and low price.
III. Chrome OS: A Puzzling Mess
We had an interesting talk with sources at ARM Holdings plc. (
). ARM suggests that a reason for the flop of Chromebooks is Google, Acer, and Samsung's perplexing lack of an ARM Chromebook. There's no clear reason why this is the case. ARM officials did say that they're still hearing that ARM Chromebooks are in the works, but these sound like they could be several quarters, if not years away.
Aside from the lack of ARM, it's also puzzling why Google would not release a revamped build of the more well-known and respected Android operating system for notebooks. While it's possible Chrome OS may someday merge into the Android tree, for now Chrome OS remains weakened partly because it just isn't a household name.
For better or worse, though, Samsung and Google appear to be sticking to the same stubborn approach with Chromebooks. Let's just hope they fix that authentication flaw.
In related news to Samsung's Chromebook Series 5 unveil, Samsung unveiled
refreshed Windows-based Series 5 and Series 9 notebooks
and significantly higher price points.
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RE: It's not the OS.
1/11/2012 5:38:34 PM
If they sold Chromebooks for less money than netbooks (i.e. $150-$200), then I would buy one for my mom. She has no local files and only uses the internet on her computer. For $400-$500 there's no way to justify the limited functionality and netbook-like hardware.
RE: It's not the OS.
1/12/2012 3:09:01 PM
Same lesson that the tablet manufacturers quickly learned. If you don't have an icon of a piece of fruit on your product, don't expect to sell it for the same price point as the other (fruity) guys do. Doesn't matter if it can do everything they can do, or has better specs, it won't sell at that price point.
Make it LESS capable, but the same price, and people will just ignore your product.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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