Google announced Chromebooks just three months ago to wildly positive and equally negative punditry. Evaluating recent product announcements and business growth for Chromebooks, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Google has a winner with Chromebooks. If you haven’t been following Chromebooks closely, you’d better start.
Chromebooks are a disruptive innovation
I have previously countered ZDnet’s Ed Bott’s claims that Chromebooks aren’t Windows killers. Here are of two key points I raised:
1. Google’s pricing strategy is a step toward IT as a service. By reducing the cost per notebook and business applications to approximately $35 per user per month, Google was reducing the total cost of ownership to less than 20 percent of today’s cost of acquiring, maintaining and supporting the IT infrastructure needed per knowledge worker.
2. All apps that some users need can run in a browser. Simply put, a Chromebook is not for every employee. However, a majority of knowledge workers, specialized workers or mobile users could use a Chromebook with little to no impact to their workflow.
Google continues to make Chromebooks enterprise ready
Google’s claims Chromebooks are designed to get better and faster over time through software updates.
Google recently announced the availability of new features that support their claim of Chromebooks “getting better over time”.
VPN support and Secure WiFi have been added to the latest Chrome OS release, which is the operating system software that runs inside a Chromebook.
With these two additions, businesses that protect access to their wireless network and restrict remote access to their internal network – that would be virtually every business I know of – can now consider a Chromebook in their enterprise.
It’s a little surprising that Chromebooks were targeted at businesses without support for WiFi security at a minimum. VPN support would be a close second in basic requirements for a business seeking to use Chromebooks with mobile employees.
That said, Google did close these two holes in three months since first shipping Chromebooks for businesses.
Google also announced a Tech Preview of Citrix Receiver for Chrome OS, which would address users who need to run existing applications not suited for a traditional browser. For instance, Google and Citrix show Adobe Photoshop on a Chromebook through Citrix Receiver.
I’m still convinced that this is a checkbox feature versus something Google truly expects broad adoption of. For instance, the Citrix Receiver Tech Preview currently counts 38 users on the Chrome Web Store.
Chromebook customer traction is encouraging
While the pace of feature additions to Chromebooks in encouraging, Google’s client references for Chromebooks are even more impressive.
Google groups client references into several categories that could resonate with potential business buyers.
IT departments have to contend with the challenge of supporting branch locations. As Google rightly points out, onsite IT support at some branch locations can be expensive and impractical. Google now counts the likes of AmericanAirlines, RubyTuesday and Jason’s deli as clients using Chromebooks to reduce the cost of IT at branch locations.
Another key target user group is specialized workers. Virtually every business has a set of users whose IT needs don’t expand beyond email, and access to intranet and web-based applications. These users are perfect trial groups for rolling out Chromebooks at your company.
Salesforce.com, Groupon, Logitech and InterContinental Hotels Groups are key clients using Chromebooks to meet the needs of specialized workers.
Finally, Virgin America, National Geographic, the City of Orlando, and Konica Minolta are amongst reference clients using Chromebooks for mobile employees. Again, I find it interesting that these organizations adopted Chromebooks for mobile users before VPN and secure WiFi capabilities were added to Chrome OS.
Your organization could very likely find mobile users, specialized users and branch office deployments that could benefit from Chromebook usage.
With the strong list of client references Google has already collected, what are you waiting for?
I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.”