What Are People Doing On All Those Cheap Chromebooks?

30Dec13

Chromebook sales have been a big deal over the past year. This of course leads to the naysayers asking why they aren’t showing up in web logs everywhere? I think the answer is pretty straightforward… Chromebook users are likely much the same as cheap tablet users – so they’ll be mostly using them for gmail, Facebook and other very mainstream sites (that don’t tend to share their traffic data). Of course there will be a bit of casual off piste surfing , but that’s mostly showing up in the noise of the long tail.

The folk speculating about this should look in the mirror. Not literally. Macs are a tiny proportion of notebook sales, but account for a decent amount of web traffic . Conclusion: Mac users surf more than others. It’s a similarly skewed story for the iPad in the tablet world – it’s share of units sold is diminishing, but it’s share of the web remains very strong.

There are some consequences here – a mass audience that just isn’t showing up in many places, and a niche (more affluent) audience that gets around more. So the Google and Facebook engineers need to think about the Chromebook masses, but not (yet) so much everybody else.

For what it’s worth the Samsung ARM Chromebook I bought a year ago has got incrementally better over the past 12 months. With the SSH and RDP niggles gone it now does pretty much everything that I expected of it. It doesn’t get a ton of use since I picked up my Lenovo X230, but it’s the machine I reach for when I’m still in bed and need something with a keyboard.



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