The rise of the Chromebook – How the Chromebook fought back and won
Commission may be earned if you purchase through links on this site - learn more
It was in June 2011 when the first Chromebook was launched to the world. It got off to a bad start with consumers and review websites alike giving the Chromebook a big thumbs down. Fast forward eight years and the much-loved Chromebook of today is almost
Google’s vision of the future was underestimated
When the first Chromebook was launched it was widely seen as a technology that would not take off. This was not just the consumer, but many review and technology websites gave the Chromebook a big thumbs down. The mistake we all made was thinking Google had got it all wrong. When in fact, fast forward to 2019, and Google knew exactly what they were doing.
Nobody can deny that Google is a technology company that makes the right decisions when looking to the future. For technology companies trying to predict what technology we will be using in the future is a big challenge. Luckily, Google has the money to see things through, and even though the Chromebook got off to a bad start, Google continued to look forward and improve the Chromebook and more importantly Chrome OS.
My very first Chromebook
I remember reading about the Chromebook in a national newspaper before it was launched. Finding out Google was launching its very own computer device running on a brand new operating system got me very excited. I was already a massive fan of Google, so I was convinced immediately it would be a great success. This article from the BBC in 2011 hints at the concerns the technology industry had with the Chromebook.
My first Chromebook was the HP Chromebook 11 and I absolutely loved it. It was a small compact Chromebook and the IPS display provided great visuals. It took a little while to get used to how Chrome OS Worked and I definitely struggled at first with the idea of not installing programs on a computer.
The reasons why people struggled to accept the Chromebook
YOU NEEDED AN INTERNET CONNECTION
There were a few reasons why the Chromebook was given such a bad reception when it was first launched. The first hurdle for Google was a computer device that had to be connected to the internet to work. We are only talking about eight years since the Chromebook was launched. However, it was true that the world was not as connected as it is today.
Although the majority of the world had great home broadband. It was not the case with mobile data. It may have been the case that 4G had been launched a couple of years earlier in 2009, but the problem was the cost of data at the time. Although we had access to 4G. Mobile phone companies were charging a lot of money for very little data allowance.
YOU COULD NOT USE YOUR APPS OFF LINE
This was a big concern for most people. Getting used to always needing an internet connection was one thing, but not being able to use your Chromebook without one was a major drawback. You can accept not being able to go onto the internet without a connection, but not being able to use your computer whatsoever was a little hard for people to accept.
THE CHROMEBOOK CAME WITH VERY LITTLE STORAGE
People were used to having a lot of storage when it comes to computers. Back in 2011 having a hard disk with 500 GB or even 1 TB was the standard on a Microsoft Windows-based computer. You needed this storage for the operating system and the programs you wanted to install. Most Chromebooks come with 16GB, which was a huge difference.
The operating system for the Chromebook ‘Chrome OS’ took up very little space. Also, everything you did on a Chromebook was web-based. Even the applications you used were essentially pointed to a web address, so again, you did not need much storage. However, the main concern was that the Chromebook was set up for you to save your work files in the cloud.
GOOGLE DRIVE DID NOT EXIST
The big problem with the Chromebook when it was first launched was the concept of saving your private files to the cloud. Although cloud computing was becoming more popular people were still wary of saving private and personal files in the cloud.
This was not helped by the fact that Google did not have a cloud storage option to offer Chromebook users at the beginning. Google Drive was not launched until April 2012, which was 11 months after the Chromebook went on sale. This proved a big issue for Google and users alike. Google was only offering the public a partial service. They could provide the hardware, but not the software that was needed. Sure, there were other cloud storage providers available, such as Dropbox, but you only got a small amount of storage free of charge.
POPULAR PROGRAMS WERE NOT AVAILABLE
Another big hurdle the Chromebook had was that you could not install programs you were comfortable in using. For example, if you were big on using spreadsheets it was most likely you wanted to use Microsoft Excel. Also, people had a huge array of programs they used on a Microsoft PC that could not be used on the Chromebook.
It’s still true today that people buy a Chromebook and are shocked that they cannot install programs they use on their Windows PC. This is an uphill battle of educating people on how the Chromebook works. It’s one of the reasons why I launched this website. To try and spread the word on just how good the Chromebook is and that you do not need these programs you have grown to love.
Google fought back and won
Google realised it had a big challenge on its hands to get the Chromebook accepted. Not only were the public unconvinced, but the technology world also had doubts. However, Google knew the future of computing was online and they were right.
You only have to look at how we use computers today and it has changed massively since 2011. For years the Chromebook suffered because web-based computing was not taken seriously. The irony is that it has now totally changed. The idea of software developers spending huge amounts of money on a program that is not web-based is almost unthinkable.
Google’s vision of the future was now reality
All the big software developers such as Microsoft and Adobe now offer their software as a web-based application. This is great for Chromebook users because it means you can now use software such as Excel. It’s also a huge
The issues with the Chromebook were fixed
This saved the Chromebook in the early years and today it’s not considered an issue at all. The connected world has grown up dramatically in the last few years. The likelihood of not being able to get a connection when out and about has reduced hugely. Mobile data plans now come with huge amounts of data allowance and free WiFi on trains and buses h
THE CHROMEBOOK STORAGE ISSUE
This is a strange one because over the last few years the amount of storage your Chromebook has does now matter. You should still try and store your work files in the cloud. In fact, Google Drive works seamlessly with the Chromebook and you get 15GB of storage free of charge. So it makes sense to use this service.
The reason why storage is now back on the agenda is due to Android and Linux Apps. To use apps that are not web-based means you need to install them on your Chromebooks internal storage. So this has created a complete reversal when it comes to how much storage you need. You can find out more by reading the article below.
MOST SOFTWARE IS NOW AVAILABLE ON THE WEB
This is still a big concern for many people looking to move over to using a Chromebook. Luckily, the amount of applications you now have available is huge. Also, the change by the big software companies such as Adobe. To create online versions of their software means you can access almost any software you want on your Chromebook computer.
Google also offers some great free alternatives to programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. You can access these directly from your Chromebook and they offer the same functions without the cost.
Google wanted more for the Chromebook
The issues the Chromebook faced when originally launched are a thing of the past. However, luckily for us, Google went a step further when it announced Android and Linux Apps would be available on the Chromebook.
ANDROID APPS ON THE CHROMEBOOK
The launch of Android Apps on the Chromebook cannot be underestimated. In fact, it’s a huge turning point for the Chromebooks future. It’s true that Android Apps have taken some time to become a standard. This was mainly due to the fact that most Chromebooks on offer at the time were not compatible with Android Apps.
Manufacturers noticed the huge potential the Chromebook now had. The market share of the Chromebook was about to increase hugely. People put off by the Chromebook because of the lack of programs available. Now had the reassurance that the Android Apps they grew to love on their mobile phones would also be available on the Chromebook.
The problem was the manufacturers were not sure of what type of device was needed to work with Android Apps. Chromebooks were being released on the market that were Android App compatible. However, most of these Chromebooks did not come with a touchscreen. It was soon apparent that using Android Apps without a touchscreen was not ideal.
WAS ANDROID APPS AT A TURNING POINT?
There was wide speculation of what was going to happen with Android Apps. Was Android Apps going to merge with the Chromebook App store? If this was the case it would have meant the end of Android Apps.
The problem was Android, which has hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from have been developed for mobile and tablet devices. These devices have a touchscreen. Were developers prepared to change future apps to work for both touchscreen and
You can use some Android Apps without a touchscreen, but it’s not pretty, in fact, it can be really irritating. This meant something had to change. The problem for Google is that Android Apps is a huge success for Android mobile devices. Changing Android Apps for the Chromebook had the potential to interfere with the usability of the apps on mobile phones.
THE ANDROID APPS SOLUTION FOR THE CHROMEBOOK
The solution was an obvious one. Android Apps was too big to change for the Chromebook, so the Chromebook had to change for Android Apps. Looking back this makes great sense and is the best solution for all involved. Manufacturers started to launch Chromebooks with a touchscreen. This instantly fixed the problem of not being able to use Android Apps that were specifically made to work with touchscreen devices.
You can still get Chromebooks that are Android App compatible that do not have a touchscreen. My advice would be to stay well clear of these devices. If you want to use Android Apps then you need to get a Chromebook that supports touchscreen. Find out more about what to look for when buying a Chromebook in 2019.
There have already been really successful Chromebooks launched with touchscreen capability. The most obvious one is the Asus C302 Chromebook, which is arguably the best Chromebook available at the time of writing this article. You also have the amazing Google Pixelbook, which is a great device, but maybe a tad expensive for the majority of people.
Expect to see some great Chromebook devices launched in the next couple of years. These devices will without question come with a touchscreen. The replacement to the Asus C302, which is the Asus C434 Chromebook is soon to be released. It looks like a great device, but we will have to wait and see if it can truly replace the Asus C302.
The future for the Chromebook
The future is looking bright for the Chromebook. Not only have all the issues previously thought about when thinking of the Chromebook been fixed. The launch of Android Apps brings a huge amount of flexibility to the Chromebook. It’s a really smart move by Google.
The launch of mobile and tablet devices created a huge move away from the Microsoft Windows-based machine. There were two main reasons for this. People want devices they can use on the move. They also want devices that are fast and easy to use. It was soon
This is where the Chromebook excels. It provides you with a computer device, but with the ease of use of a mobile phone. This is why the Chromebook will become an easy choice for potential Chromebook newbies. The realisation that you do not need to leave behind your much loved Android Apps. Is going to be one of the biggest turning points in the success of the Chromebook.
If Android Apps is not enough to get people to move over to the Chromebook. Then perhaps the introduction of Linux Apps may be the next game-changer in the war over Chromebook vs MS Windows. Linux Apps is not there just yet. You can use Linux Apps on your Chromebook, but there is a long way to go before it becomes easily accessible to the masses.
The one thing I am certain of. The Chromebook is here to stay and I cannot wait to see what devices become available over the next few years.