Computing For All, Yet Not For Everyone: Google’s Chromebook

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

For years there were two camps in the computing world: Mac or PC (or Linux, though this more of a few tents, rather than a full camp). PCs have always favored gamers, programmers, and old people, while Mac is more geared towards creative types, the computer illiterate, and hipsters.  And until very recently people have stuck to their groups—almost like Republicans and Democrats. Well a third party is on the rise. No, it’s not the resurgence of Linux, but rather Google’s Chromebook.

Originally released in May 2011, the Chromebook had one mantra: life is better in the cloud. And Google fully commits to this mantra. The newest Chromebooks have a 16g gigabyte hard drive with 2 gigabytes of ram, and they come with 2 years of 100 gigabyte cloud storage.

On initial glance, these numbers would sound ridiculous. 16 gigabytes of storage? In two years, they’ll be an iPod shuffle that stores more than that. But Google forces its customers all into the notion that all the storage you’d ever need is in the cloud. Hard disks are so 2009. Plus, 2 gigs of RAM is plenty because a lot of the heavy lifting is done on a sever a million miles away from you. Story after story reports that the Chromebook acts as if it had twice or three times the memory, all while performing at top speed.

The Chromebook is built for all, yet it’s not right for everyone. At 249$, the new Chromebook by Samsung finally allows almost everyone the opportunity to own a high performance laptop. Apple has nothing even remotely close to that price range, and anything from PC is going to be abominable. But while the Chromebook is universally accessible, it’s not the best option for every lifestyle. Life in the cloud means no desktop hardware. There are cloud based apps for almost everything nowadays, but if you work with specialized software, such as sound or video editing, it would difficult to survive in the cloud.

So in the end, is the Chromebook perfect? Absolutely not. Like every laptop, there are some things it does better than the rest, and other tasks where it’s less than optimal. And living in the cloud means you must have constant and reliable Internet connectivity. But life, and especially hardware selection, is all about choice. And it’s always better to have three options, rather than two.

Creative Commons Acer Chromebook 15” by pestoverde is licensed under CC BY 2.0