Why is Microsoft scared of Chromebooks?
|Microsoft scared of Chromebooks|
It’s pretty much a brick,” says Pawn Stars’ Rick Harrison as he rejects a Samsung Chromebook brought in by an actor playing a customer. Microsoft really doesn’t want you buying this thing.
But why? Just how big of a threat are Chromebooks, Google’s oft-ridiculed web-only laptops, to Microsoft’s core business?
In many ways, 2013 has been the year of the Chromebook for Google. From Acer’s $199 C720-2848 to HP’s $279 Chromebook 11, Mountain View has attracted traditional Windows PC makers to build a variety of low-cost laptops in time for the holidays. While Microsoft had largely ignored the threat since the first Chromebook launched some two years ago, it’s been on the attack in recent weeks as part of its ongoing “Scroogled” campaign. Following the Pawn Stars bit, the company has recruited its own “Ben the PC Guy” to hit the streets for comparisons between Windows 8 and a Chromebook.
Microsoft’s latest effort to undermine the Chromebooks feels more “Mac vs. PC” — Apple’s famous ad campaign from several years ago — than anything else. The scenes are reminiscent of the “laptop hunter” ads that Microsoft used to attack Apple following the Windows Vista release — it’s a similar approach nearly five years later. The difference this time is that Microsoft appears to be targeting a threat that doesn’t really exist yet: while consumer-research group NPD claimed earlier this year that Chromebook sales have snared nearly 25 percent of the US market for laptops under $300, that market has been largely replaced by tablets. Rival research firm IDC estimatesthat Samsung shipped around 652,000 Chromebooks worldwide in Q3. “Among other vendors Lenovo, Acer, and HP have shipped, but in tiny volume,” says IDC’s senior research analyst Rajani Singh. IDC expects Chrome OS devices to reach 3 million units this year — that’s less than 1 percent of all PC sales.
Something has Microsoft spooked, though. Chromebooks have dominated Amazon’s best seller charts in the US, but without hard numbers, it’s still unclear exactly how well Google’s laptops are selling worldwide. There is a threat from well-priced laptops, as we’ve witnessed from Linux-based netbooks years ago, but things appear to be moving slowly for Chromebooks right now. Google’s latest Chromebooks from Acer and HP could help push things further, but Google and HP were forced to halt sales of the Chromebook 11 last month following complaints of chargers overheating. After three weeks, the Chromebook 11 still hasn’t returned to shelves despite the important Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days during the busy holiday period.
And in reality, Microsoft’s offensive could backfire, drawing more attention to a platform that many consumers aren’t familiar with. Google has been aggressively pushing its range of Chromebooks with simple ads that focus on the price of the laptop and its simplicity. The devices won’t appeal to every consumer due to their various restrictions, but many potential customers might not even be aware of their existence yet.
“Given Microsoft is currently losing the mobility war by a wide margin, they are turning to defending their laptop turf, and doing it by playing a strong offense,” says Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. “The downside is that by Microsoft going after Chromebooks with broadcast media, they are increasing general consumer awareness and familiarity for Chromebooks versus the more technically savvy who are buying Chromebooks.”
Via: The Verge