There is an old principle in the consulting business: If they are centralized, then recommend decentralization; If they are decentralized, recommend centralization. There is some of that in this concept. Cynicism aside for the moment, there is some value in taking computer management out of the hands of many users. I still see them doing things they shouldn't ought to and I am still being asked to fix the resulting problems. The question is whether putting their trust in Google to take care of them will be smart in the long run.
Chromebook may be novel alternative. But if one is on the go, he/she needs 3G/4G connectivity and data usage. Will not this be very costly affair? In Canada, 1GB of data on 3G costs around $20. Google also has to resolve this issue to make Chromebook popular.
As a member of the Google Pilot program, see my post below, I have grown to enjoy using it. Fast to boot up, long battery life, sometimes I go for days without charging it, even though I us it on a daily basis. I would recommend it because it does not need all of the baggage that is necessary with any conventional computer (spyware, additional programs, lugging battery charger, etc.)
Well, I think one of the most creative things Google has done with the Chromebook is on the business side. They will be leasing Chromebooks to students for $20/month and business for $28/month that include the Google application as a replacement for Microsoft Office. I'm not sure if huge companies will jump on board, but I'm sure that a large number of schools and small to mid-sized business will take advantage of of it. That may the true Ah Ha, no technical but business.
As someone who participated in the Chrome OS Pilot program, I've been using a Chrome OS (called CR-48) since late January. I was very skeptical of the concept. But the fast boot, long battery life and the combination of WiFi and built-in cellular has been a breeze to use. I have also found that using web only applications has not been a major impediment, using Microsoft Live.com, you can even create and edit Microsoft Office documents.
Current computers get slower and slower as increasingly bloated software puts greater and greater demands on old systems. If in the future, Google's cloud recognizes the model of computer that is connecting and provides slimmed down versions of the software to older, slower systems then they'll have a winning application. The cloud based software can also avoid the problems associated with computers slowing down with age as the installed software gets patched and repatched until it is nearly unusable. If only WiFi access were ubiquitous and the cloud were completely reliable...
I personally don't like the cloud computing concept very much. The firs problem is security. Just look at bank. I don't think ever dare to put their database at cloud, why? Answer is simply security. The other problem is the internet access. In Asia where I live and work, the internet speed is just something luxury so I just can't imagine what will happen to the Chrombook if the internet speed is just a little bit better than 10kbps (don't believe it, come to China and we can easily experience it). Internet access cost is also a great concern, especially mobile internet access. So, even if this product is very cheap (or totally free), I won't take it serious to try.
The real potential with the Chromebook is in lifetime issues. The power won't be spectacular. The functionality won't be either. Nor is the price. If this were another Win7 notebook, it would fit right in the middle of mediocre.
I don't think the ease of use is at its potential yet, but the idea of a turn it on and not worry about anything computer has a lot of appeal to a lot of people.
I don't have any problem managing my data, keeping good backups and migrating when I upgrade, but there is a large segment of the computing public for whom those are mountainous issues. Just the "simple" act of getting a new computer is traumatic for a lot of people.
If the old one dies, then pay hundreds of dollars to "possibly" reclaim all the family pictures, or just lose them. Email addresses and messages are gone. Letters, Christmas address lists, school work; all are at risk of disappearing. Even if the computer just needs a repair, the likelihood of an HD wipe is way too great for comfort, not to mention the days to weeks of time without the machine.
With a Chromebook, if it breaks, just go get another one and turn it on. If you're in a distant city, need a laptop, but have left your behind, just go rent or borrow one, turn it on and go.
Yes, there is still too much risk of data theft in the cloud and your recourse for data loss are almost non-existent, but once those problems are ironed out, such a device will have the potential to solve a large number of consumer PC difficulties that have been around since consumers have been using PCs.