The tech press is a little bit taken aback by the fact that 5-10% of the units sold by Acer, a PC maker, were Chromebooks. Acer makes the Chromebook C7, a laptop that runs Google’s ChromeOS, an operating system that is more-or-less a browser that can save things to cloud storage. If you read the tech site reviews, this thing is hard to distinguish from excrement: the screen isn’t so great, the keyboard and trackpad aren’t elegant, it’s a little slow, and it’s make from cheap and kind of ugly plastic.
Yet Acer sold a bunch of them, in my view mainly because the thing costs $199. If you want to get your kid, or your grandparents, a laptop that that won’t get polluted with viruses, updates automatically, and won’t lose any data if you drop it in the toilet (since it’s all stored in Google’s cloud), the Acer C7 is a solid choice. You kid can update Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest and write papers for school. Your grandparents can update Facebook and send and receive email with pictures of the grandkids. Everyone’s happy, even if the device they’re using isn’t carved out of a single piece of solid aluminum, and the display isn’t retina quality.
A few years ago, the PC industry sold a bunch of netbooks, which were cheap little computers that ran a stripped-down version of Windows (or, in some cases, Linux). If you read the tech press, these were also too slow, and they all had crummy screens and crappy keyboards. Yet millions were sold because they were cheap and useful. Supposedly netbooks died out because the market switched to buying iPads or other tablets, but there’s still a market for a cheap computing device with a built-in full-size keyboard, and Chromebooks are filling the niche. They’re for the other America of computing: those who want something useful and affordable, no matter what the tech press thinks about it.
Also, too: the reason .04% of Daring Fireball’s traffic is from Chromebooks is because the kids and grandparents don’t give a shit about the resolution of the next iPad or whether Tim Cook can fill Steve Job’s shoes.