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Summary:

Acer hasn’t been kind to Microsoft of late and is now trumpeting its Chromebook sales, which account for between 5 and 10 percent of all sales in just two months.

Acer C7 Chromebook

Google Chromebooks, not Microsoft Windows 8 computers, are selling well for Acer. In a weekend report, Bloomberg noted that Chromebooks account for between 5 and 10 percent of Acer’s recent shipments to the US; an interesting data point considering the timing. Microsoft’s Windows 8, hoping to re-ignite the PC market, launched in late October, or just about the same time Acer began selling Chromebooks.

google-chromebookAcer’s president, Jim Wong, has been one of the most vocal critics of Microsoft’s partners of late, first announcing disappointment in Microsoft’s decision to launch its own Surface computers and now suggesting that Windows 8 “is still not successful.” For its part, Microsoft has turned the finger-pointing back at PC makers, with The Register reporting last week that Microsoft feels partners didn’t build enough attractive Windows 8 tablets for the 2012 holiday season.

Blame game aside, the numbers are telling. This month, Microsoft announced sales of 60 million Windows 8 license sales, but that figure includes sales to hardware makers for new PCs that may not have been sold yet. And the overall PC market is down in terms of sales. In the final quarter of 2012, the industry experienced a decline of 6.4 percentage points over the year ago quarter.

lots of tabletsA few reasons explain the sales decline. For starters, consumers and businesses may be holding on their older computers longer; unless you have a budget PC from a few years ago, you can very likely upgrade to Windows 8 or simply keep using Windows 7 for now.

Cheaper options for PC-like tasks are available as well: Smartphones to some degree and tablets to a much larger extent can handle many activities once reserved for computers. Plus, you can remotely connect to and use a computer from these tablets if needed.

The popularity of Google’s Chromebook is another example of less need for a traditional computer. It’s clearly not a full computer replacement but after using one since June of last year, it fits nearly all of my needs, for example. So much of today’s computing activities take place in a browser that the Chromebook can be a secondary device allowing an old computer to suffice for more resource intensive tasks or apps.

Ironically, Acer’s Chromebook entries are simply low-priced Windows laptops repurposed for Google’s Chrome OS. That cuts out any licensing fees to Microsoft, which if the market for Chromebooks grows, can hurt the company down the line. No Windows also means no Office; essentially a double whammy for Microsoft revenues if Acer’s Chromebooks become a hot seller. Samsung sells both Windows 8 computers as well as Chromebooks and it appears HP is entering this non-Microsoft market too.

Acer Iconia W510

Don’t think Acer is divorcing Microsoft, however. The company still builds Windows devices and surely makes the bulk of its PC division revenues from these.

In fact, I just received a Windows 8 tablet review unit from Acer — the Intel Atom-based W510 — and my initial impressions are mostly positive. The $599 tablet offers the benefits of touch when desired plus full Windows compatibility and an optional keyboard dock: A handy combination. But if that’s too much money for you, Acer’s Chromebooks start at a low $199; a price that will command more attention than any Windows 8 laptop on the market.

  1. Microsoft is becoming a textbook case in how not to deal with a changed market.

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  2. Lenovo also has a Chromebook.
    Chrome OS seems to be selling well as an OS for parents and as the first PC for kids.Cheap machines that boot fast,and are pretty secure do make sense.
    Ofc PC makers should put more into creating thinner models,cutting weight and Google has to work some more too for some very basic features that are still missing.
    Would be nice to see some ARM based machines and maybe some AMD chips.

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  3. I still think these guys should all be using quad core Cortex A15 at this point. For $200 or so machines, ARM chips are a no-brainer. Also high storage HDD’s make no sense for Chromebooks. Just put SSD/flash in there.

    So far Samsung “gets it” the most. And it shows. Their Chromebook has been #1 on Amazon’s best selling laptops list basically since it launched in fall:

    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Electronics-Laptop-Computers/zgbs/electronics/565108/ref=amb_link_362809642_3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-4&pf_rd_r=058WFA64C3D2PHAQ1NCF&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1380421582&pf_rd_i=2956501011

    What I’m expecting from the next-gen $250 Samsung Chromebook (or any other manufacturer willing to build it like this) is a quad-core Cortex A15 chip (perhaps one of those octo-core big.Little chips to improve on battery life), a 10h+ battery life that will also require a larger battery. The one they have now is basically smaller than the one in Nexus 7, and I find that pretty ridiculous, but I assume it was one way to cut costs. But hopefully for the next-gen one they can squeeze a larger battery in there for the same price.

    Also a higher-quality IPS display. The resolution can stay the same until gen 3.0. Full HD is probably not feasible for $250 right now. But in gen 3.0 in 2014, I’d also expect a 1080p display for such a device. I think that will be doable then.

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  4. Does Chromebook support all the devices that can be attached to a PC such as cameras? Can it run Photoshop? Chromebook is to Windows/Mac as Windows Phone is to Android/IOS.

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    1. No Chromebooks don’t support drunken elephants with purple tulips in their trunks tiptoeing over them, but they are not designed to do that. They can however support everything that 95% of users do on computers much better than Windows, and they can support the remaining 5% by using Citrix Reciever or Ericiom Access Now.

      And yes, Chromebooks can run Photoshop the same way it runs web apps by running it on a server via Citrix Receiver or Ericom Access Now. Chromebooks have cameras built in, so you don’t need an external camera.

      Most people have cameras in their mobile phones in any case, and I would not recommend that anyone who wants a decent digital camera buy it on the basis that it can plug into Windows – decent cameras feature Flash storage which can be plugged into any computer including Chromebooks. A camera that requires you to carry along a Windows laptop or PC with you is a total piece of junk.

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  5. And now Lenovo and HP have joined the Chromebook party. So I guess it’s just as well that Google kept at it, and wasn’t discouraged by the Chromebook’s bumpy start.

    While the Chromebook is gathering steam, it still faces a challenge in getting into the enterprise. Most businesses still rely on Windows applications. However, there are third party solutions like Ericom’s AccessNow HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab. Products like AccessNow can help make Chromebooks a viable option for business customers.

    Click here for more information:
    http://www.ericom.com/RDPChromebook.asp?URL_ID=708

    Please note that I work for Ericom

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  6. ” it fits nearly all of my needs”.

    How close is that to “meeting all of my needs”?

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