Geeks are buying Chromebooks, not normal people

While I was researching my story about Chromebooks for TechSpot last week (a synthesis of stuff I’ve written before), I found this interesting article from OMG!Chrome!, a Chromebook enthusiast site.

It’s a strong argument that the people buying Chromebooks in retail and online aren’t normal people with low computing needs — they are in fact tech savvy people looking for a cheap second device.

Based on past articles, it might seem like I hate Chromebooks. Nothing of the sort. Thin clients like Chromebooks are the future and I can’t wait for us to get there. However, that future is still far away, and the amount of hype and coverage dedicated to Chromebooks today far exceed what it deserves.

An excellent device for your grandma? I think not. A companion device for gadget lovers? Sure, I get that. Chromebook’s simple nature and fast boot times can make a great experience for specific use cases.

But I wouldn’t recommend Chromebooks to “normal” people. If you think Windows RT or 8 are difficult to comprehend, Chromebooks are worse.

Let’s go back to the OMG!Chrome!’s story, which examined some of the negative reviews about Chromebooks on Amazon. Keep in mind the majority of people who purchase computers online tend to already be quite tech savvy:

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The Chromebook is at heart just a browser, though increasingly it can do more. For gadget lovers who understand this and just want the best browsing experience possible in a $200 package, that’s a good thing.

For everyone else, the lack of functionality is strange and confusing if not downright maddening. I can see my grandma buying a Chromebook and thinking it’s broken because Skype won’t run on it.

Amazon review 1

People actually do like to use Internet Explorer and Firefox. The inability of a computer to run those familiar programs will bewilder the average person familiar with Windows.

The fact that certain Google-branded apps don’t work on Chromebooks will only add to that confusion.

Readers, if you like Chromebooks I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong. Every preference is valid. Good for you.

But if you think this is the ideal device to recommend to a non-tech savvy friend or relative, think again. You might be right, but chances are that person will prefer a $250 Dell or the upcoming $200 HP Stream 14.

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