Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chromebook: To Hell With the Linux Desktop--Pre-Installation is Key.

by Dietrich Schmitz

I keep seeing snipes here and there about Google's Chromebook.

People waging criticism just don't seem to grasp what is happening.  Let me clarify a few points which should help you to better understand why we need to put our full support behind the Chromebook.

Nobody Wants to Install an Operating System

When you get right down to it, nobody cares about Operating Systems.  Nobody wants to install an Operating System, with minor exceptions including your average 'Gear Head' (me) who likes to get grease under his finger nails and tinker with all manner of different technologies.  I am in the minority.

So, when you walk by that Chromebook at Best Buy, realize that it's in the brick and mortar setting because it comes pre-installed.  That is a must for any operating system to become wildly popular.  You can't succeed otherwise.  It doesn't matter which GUI you like.  Not pre-installed?   You are losing in the bigger game played by Microsoft and Apple.

Software Certification

While people continue to scoff and chide Chromebooks, they overlook that Google have succeeded in fine tuning their operating system and the software certification which has been done with OEMs assures that the units they sell will run reliably, trouble-free.  This is so important because it reduces the risk taken to capitalize and ramp up to production a given product SKU.  OEMs all know that the rate of return will be reduced accordingly because of the Internet Appliance like reliability of Chromebooks.

Linux Kernel Device Driver Support

Most recently, Linux kernel 3.9 was released and it adds full support for ChromeOS internal and external devices.  Also, ChromeOS not only runs on Intel/AMD processors, but on ARM devices as well, with the same 100% level of kernel support including device drivers and KVM virtualization.  This is a big move towards a higher level of compatibility between the Linux kernel and ChromeOS and makes OEMs all the more willing to build computers they know will run with a high degree of reliability.

Brand Image, Internet Appliance, Ease of Use

I've written about Google's approach to marketing the Chromebook in The Linux Inside Stigma.
You can say what you will about that, but I think it was clever and wise that they branded the product in such a way as to avoid mentioning 'Linux' entirely.  The product is packaged accordingly as an Internet Appliance 'turn-key' system.  It starts up in a matter of seconds with an internal SSD drive (3 seconds approximately) and users will find the Chrome Aura Window Manager a familiar user experience as it presents itself nearly the same way that the popular Google Chrome browser interface does.  It's intuitive, easy to understand and use.  That's the Chromebook brand image.  Is it any surprise then that Linus Torvalds has given the Chromebook his enthusiastic endorsement?

Chromebook's word of mouth reputation continues to spread fast, with sales now having expanded into six new markets as demand continues to grow.


A marketing plan also should include targeted demographics.  Shooting for a 'mass market', Google's partnering OEMs have succeeded in keeping the design cost low and are selling SKUs in the $200 to $500 U.S. price range.  One of the more aggressive OEMs, Acer introduced during the 2012 Holiday season their Acer Chrombook C7 which turned into a best seller at $199.  That is simply remarkable.


Putting it all together, Pwnium 2013 proved that Chromebooks are not only reliable, they are, by far, the safest commercially-sold Internet devices.  This should give prospective buyers the peace of mind they need to venture on the Internet without risk and the low cost makes these devices most affordable and an attractive option.

-- Dietrich

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