Mac360′s Kate MacKenzie notes that when Steve Jobs announced the post-PC era, he was assuming that the dominant post-PC device would be the iPad he was unveiling, or another Apple product like the iPhone. And he wasn’t wrong, at least thus far, although iPad sales have been famously lagging lately.
However, something Mr. Jobs likely didn’t anticipate back in 2010 was the emergence of arch-rival Google’s ChromeBook minimalist laptops at prices substantially undercutting even entry level iPads, and gobbling up more and more of the inexpensive Internet device market from both tablets and low-end PC laptops.’
And with good reason. As Ms. MacKenzie observes, if all you need is a basic computing and Internet platform capable of doing email, Web surfing, and perhaps some word processing and light image editing, it’s hard to make a compelling case against the ChromeBook as a superior value.
For as little as $279 you get a bread and butter ChromeBook clamshell laptop with a mediocre but adequate processor and graphics silicon, a real keyboard, a decent albeit not exceptional display, and a full suite of bundled applications loaded up. ChromeBooks are low-hassle. System and application software updates and security patches are automatically downloaded and installed in the background, and Chromebook files live in the Cloud, and nothing Apple sells comes close to matching the lowball cost of roughly equivalent-performance Chromebook hardware.
As Ms. MacKenzie points out, with a Chromebook thereís almost no learning curve because there ís so little to learn. “Email, browser, music, movies, YouTube, and, if needed, basic documentsñ spreadsheet and word processingñ that are far easier to create and maintain than Office on a Windows PC”, although she emphasizes that aside from price (admittedly a big qualification) a Mac with all its built-in applications is nearly as easy to use, and offers additionally the power and versatility of a traditional PC desktop operating system.
Consequently, both ChromeBook and MacBook sales are up in their respective markets, with value in the Apple machine for those who need it or just prefer the aesthetics and tactile satisfaction of using premium quality hardware, and also value in a ChromeBook for users with tight budgets who just need basic computing power.