Why the Chromebook will be disruptive
I’m starting a new job at the end of the week, and I’ve been agonising over whether I should treat myself to a shiny new laptop. I’m *really*tempted by an 11″ MacBook Air, but at the same time I’m inclined to hold off until a Haswell-ULT/ULX version comes along (which might then have an all day battery rather than 5hrs).
In a brief moment (of insanity?) I wondered if a Surface Pro would fit the bill. And then I remembered this tweet:
That got me thinking… What if Apple made something that brought together the best of both worlds from the MBA and iPad? I imagine these qualities:
- Similar form factor to existing MacBook Air
- 10hrs+ battery life
- 3G/4G connectivity (as well as WiFi)
- Maybe a touch screen (though I could live without that)
When I got to the final point my bubble burst. Apple just aren’t going to do that. There’s a strict heirarchy that cannot be disrupted: iPod Touch, iPad Mini, iPad, MBA, MacBook Pro. There might just be room for some kind of iPad/MBA hybrid, but it would come in at $800, which seems pretty premium to me.
Then it struck me… The ChromeBook costs less that the iPod Touch, and has most of the features I’m looking for. What it can’t do is run a bunch of VMs locally. In fact it can’t even run a bunch of the most popular apps (Skype, WebEx and Netflix seem to be the biggest bugbears).
That missing stuff – it matters now. It makes the Chromebook look like a toy. I’m guessing however that we’re seeing a classic case of innovators dilemma here – today’s toy is tomorrows sharper tool – disruption.
PS I don’t think this is necessarily a huge problem for Apple. They’ve got a long sheet for selling premium stuff, and an (ARM based?) MaciPad would likely sell well to a certain audience. The ones who are going to be left without a seat when the music stops are the traditional WinTel vendors (and their problem right now is that I’m not being offered something I’d rather buy than an MBA as it seems that every Ultrabook with a screen <13″ is some ridiculous experiment in touch based user experience design – well done Windows 8 and Metro).
 I’m also considering the Lenovo X230, which is about the same travel weight, but a good deal larger (and a lot cheaper). If there’s a choice to make then it hinges on industrial design, price, and whether I need to edit Keynote presentations.
Filed under: technology | 3 Comments
Tags: apple, Chromebook, disruption, innovators dilemma, iPad, MacBook Air, MBA, Metro, Surface Pro, ultrabook, Windows 8