Nikhil SubramaniamMay 08, 2014 11:52:47 IST
With the major hardware agreement announced by Intel and Google today, the search giant has scored a big coup for its somewhat fledgling OS. Chrome OS has matured a lot since its early days, but only one thing will ensure that it’s here to stay and that’s device sales.
By tying up with Intel and leveraging the relationship the company has with OEMs such as Lenovo, Dell and HP, Google has effectively become a Microsoft rival in the PC market, to add to the already cold relationship between the companies so far. New devices means more options for customers and at a much lower price than Windows PCs. It greatly increases the opportunity to sell more Chromebooks.
What makes Chrome OS a formidable opponent is that the price point of devices is low across different brands. That’s not the case with Windows, where the price disparity is huge, with laptops at different price points. The new Chromebooks will likely be priced in the $275-$350 range, as they are currently.
One reason is the hardware, which is nearly identical. On the new Intel-powered machines, it will either be the Core i3 or Bay Trail-M, parts that are also used to power Windows devices. So Chrome OS offers manufacturers a second option to push sales, without having them stretch too much in terms of production.
Windows does have quite a few advantages over Chrome OS. Firstly, it doesn’t rely on the browser so much, and allows you to run specialised software for business needs. Windows is built for heavy-duty tasks like encoding video or high-end graphics work, something Chrome OS can’t claim. And not even the new Chromebooks can claim to have ultra high-resolution displays that new Windows PCs sport. Google is going after Windows at enterprise with its Chromebooks for Business programme, but it’s still a long way before it can hope to cause a dent in Microsoft’s share there.
So yes, Windows still will be a major contender in the PC market, but Google has barged through the door with the Intel announcement. It may be derided as a glorified browser, but Google has gone about building it in a way that puts the browser first and adds other bits later. It’s adding bits and pieces such as Google Now integration and a standalone Play Movies app for offline viewing, which will fill some of the gaps in Chrome OS. But with many more devices coming out of the gates this year, Google has plugged the biggest hole.
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