Acer Announces $199 Chromebook, Can You Still Resist?

Today Google and hardware maker Acer announced the latest Chromebook laptop, following closely on the heels of the recent Samsung release.  Once again, Acer has undercut Samsung on the price by offering a $199 notebook and beating Samsung by $50.

The Acer notebook has been officially named the C7 and packs some impressive specs given the price.  It has an 11.6 inch display, Intel Core processor, boots up in 18 seconds, a 320GB hard drive, 1080p video and 100GB of free storage on Google Drive.  The only knock here may be a rather poultry 3.5 hours of battery life.  On the other hand, it’s a pretty thin device that resemble today’s popular Ultrabooks.

While Chromebooks only run the Google Chrome operating system and aren’t compatible with traditional software like Microsoft Office, they make up for this in speed and simplicity.  The cloud storage is handy and services like Google Docs and web apps make up for this as well.  Plus, if you just can’t live without Office then you can still access it using Office Web Apps or Office 365.

So, will these recent offerings from Samsung and now the even cheaper one from Acer be enough to make you switch?  A full notebook computer for the price of a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD is certainly going to be tempting.  Plus, Google has been fast at work updating and improving the Chrome OS and things will only get better from here.

Price of Chromebook Drops. Will You Buy it Now?

Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Google announced they are dropping the price of the Chromebook by 30%. Some Chromebooks will be as low as $299. But questions still arise if a Chromebook is in your holiday wish list, when you can get a Kindle Fire, nook Color for less. Even the iPad could be in more stockings than the ultra-portable laptop.

Chromebook came out back in June as Google’s answer to a PC that didn’t have a complicated OS to it. You would load the Chromebook up to a Chrome browser; inside, all your applications would be in the cloud and the data you create would also mostly reside in a cloud drive. However, if you were in a 3G deadspot or didn’t have Wifi, then your work would be rather limited.

Competing with a Tablet

Chromebook’s price drop is pretty much an attempt to counter the prices of the Kindle Fire and nook color tablets, which debuted to the general public last week at $199 and $249 respectively. The tablet – which you could connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse – could technically become a more functional notebook than a Chromebook itself. And with prices at $100 lower than the device,  will a Samsung or Acer Chromebook even be in your holiday purchase radar?

What is Chromebook’s Market?

Google Chair at SF Airport

Google Chair at SF Airport

Chromebook has to figure out where their niche is going to be. Maybe as a laptop for the kids, or a machine you can keep in the kitchen to call up recipes or as a kiosk in a public place? Back in September, I saw the Chromebook lounge in the San Francisco Airport. Those kiosks would be great for people that have hours to wait but don’t have a computer to check their Facebook profiles or email on.

Remember when the Netbook was a popular item two years ago? What happened to that? The answer is the netbook disappeared fast. You can still get a netbook, but just like the Chromebook, why should you spend $300 or more for a device that is the same speed and power as a Kindle Fire or nook Color?

So now we can start to see the impact of these two new tablets are bringing to the holiday shopping season. Chromebook has to compete with something more compact and useable. Google has not released any data regarding Chromebooks sold, but a DigiTimes report (premium content site) says it all:

“In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry.”

What does that mean to Chromebook? Simply: It’s time to drop prices and hope the Chromebook will sell well in Q4.