Can Chromebooks replace PCs?

ChromeOS and the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks offer people an alternative to Windows-based desktop computing. What was interesting listening to the Google execs yesterday, was the fact that they used the same arguments as Scot McNealy in 1997 when he launched the JavaSation network computer. At that time traditional PCs were very expensive – $8000 per year per PC – according to Gartner, because the desktop estate was largely uncontrolled. A managed desktop strategy has made the desktop far more efficient, yet Google claims it still costs $3000 per year to manage.

For the Chromebook, the savings will arise from what Google claims is greater security, auto-updates, less helpdesk calls, no need for anti-virus or firewall software, a warranty and a subscription service, which means users will get a new machine every few years.

But marketshare data shows that people are still buying PCs and the majority of PCs run Windows. So while the Chromebook is a nice idea, it’s hard to imagine businesses moving away from the PC. After all, it has served business for over 30 years.