A year ago, I wrote that the first Chromebooks felt more like a science project than a strategic product. They were interesting but of little practical value. A lot has changed since then, and while I wouldn't say that Google has developed a truly compelling device, it has shown that the Chromebook and its underlying Chrome OS are evolving.
More than a year ago, Google announced an ambitious project to create a new class of device powered by an operating-system version of its Chrome browser . Many months of hyped expectations later, Google finally took the wraps off the first of its Chromebooks at its developer conference last week. While Google has delivered in some ways, the pricing of the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks relative to the functionality offered could spoil the party.
Didn't send anyone to CES? You probably should have. As I wrote last April, the Consumer Electronics Show may have "consumer" in its name, but it is more and more a place for IT to keep up to date with what will be happening in their companies soon. That's because users are increasingly having their say when it comes to the technologies they use.
A year ago, Google began discussing the idea of offering a full operating system based on its Chrome browser. This month, Google revealed further details of its plans and began shipping a first run of test units so that developers, reporters and analysts could begin to evaluate Google's efforts. I've been testing one of these units over the last week or so, and I found Google's efforts impressive. The question is whether Google has created a new environment that will challenge more traditional PC operating systems such as Mac OS and Windows, or whether Chrome will be the latest challenger that ends up with niche success at best.