Thursday, November 15, 2012

Windows 8 Not the Beacon of Hope the PC Market Needs it to Be

The PC market is slipping and, despite being launched with much fanfare, Windows 8 doesn't seem to be the shining beacon of recovery for the market as predicted. According to analysts, Windows 8 may do well to keep the PC industry running, but isn't enough to restore it to its former glory. According to Pund-IT Analyst Charles King, "Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Windows 8 will be enough to turn around PC sales."

In addition to that, King added, "At the end of the day, IT sales depend as much on customer confidence as they do on vendor innovation. Vendors can occasionally nudge a market in one direction or another, a bit like a tugboat guides a far larger ship. But no single company can drag broader markets along in its wake."

The weight of the sluggish world economy has brought down the PC industry and so has a growing consumer infatuation with products like the iPad and other tablets. A lot of analysts have said that some enterprises have been holding off laptop and desktop purchases until Windows 8 comes out while others have been turning to tablets and smartphones as replacements for the traditional systems.

Robert Enderle, an analyst for the Enderle Group, believes that the PC business should get help from at least some of the waiting demand for Windows 8. "We do traditionally get a slowdown prior to a release," Enderle added. "Windows 8 is compelling. It could help turn things around but it will really depend on demand."

Another analyst, Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy, isn't quite as optimistic as Enderle. Moorhead notes that the biggest drag on the business hasn't been the imminent shipping of Windows 8 but has been the economy and tablets. "Windows 8 will help PC sales some, but won't be enough to make up for the lousy economy," he stated.

To top it all off, King added that he thinks the release of Windows 8 could even hurt business. "Windows 8 is so new and so radically different than previous versions of Windows that it could spark as much resistance as curiosity. On the other hand, some research has found that Windows 8's touch enablement tops the wish lists of most PC users. If that proves right, Microsoft and its OEM partners should reap the benefits."

Note: Windows 8 is expected to be readily available on computer rentals starting in early 2013.

Source: Computer World - Windows 8 not likely to restart ailing PC market

Monday, November 12, 2012

At $199 Will The New(er) Chromebook Finally Become Mainstream?

Consumers lining up to get their hands on the all new, low-priced Samsung Chromebook may want to wait. Google announced today that a new Acer Chromebook will be released tomorrow for the new low price of $199. This comes a little over a month after Google released the new Samsung Chromebook, at a then-low-price of $249.

The move by Google is an unexpected but pleasant one. Releasing a brand new Chromebook by a different manufacturing partner a month after the release of the Samsung Chromebook begs the question as to why the two were not released at the same time? Regardless of the timing, Google is now looking to make this Acer Chromebook the first truly mainstream Chromebook laptop.

Some of the new features, or to put it better, differences between the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks include storage and battery life.  The display of the Acer is the same as the Samsung Chromebook, an 11.6 in. display with a resolution of 1,366x768. The Acer Chromebook also comes with the same Chrome Operating System as the Samsung and the 100 GB of Google Drive Storage for two years. The differences, however, between the two computers as far as storage could not be more different. The Samsung Chromebook featured a SSD (solid state drive) that contained only 16 GB of storage, while the new Acer Chromebook has a traditional HDD (hard disk drive) that contains 320 GB of storage. This major leap in storage is sure to be a tipping point for many consumers who like the idea of the Chromebook but did not like the lack of storage. The other major difference, and really major flaw for the Acer-made Chromebook, is the decrease in battery life. While the Samsung Chromebook has a good 6.5 hours of battery life, the Acer Chromebook's battery lasts only 3.5 hours. This lack of battery life is sure to be a big issue for many potential customers who are not looking for a laptop that you have to "plug in" every few hours.

Google, with these two new laptops, and more specifically with the Acer Chromebook, is trying to get their Chrome Operating System into the mainstream computer world. Chrome Operating System, or Chrome OS, is a very basic and simple operating system that uses Google's popular web browser, Chrome, to operate. Users of Chrome OS do all of their interaction through the Chrome interface and can download and use applications from the "Chrome Web Store". Since the productivity and usefulness of this operating system is largely dependent on the internet, it has not become a huge success. With the addition of offline apps and the continual drop in price of Chromebooks, however, Google may finally see their product become mainstream.

While Google certainly has a long, and frankly impossible, shot of taking down Microsoft as the king of computer operating systems, they certainly are taking steps in the right direction. While the functionality of the Chrome OS may still be limited, the reduced price point for a "fully functioning laptop" is sure to attract many consumers. Only time will tell if the new $199 price point will be just what was needed to lure customers to their brand, but one thing is for sure, at that low price Google will get people's attention.

Source: CNET - Acer C7 Chromebook