For about the past four months I’ve been using a Samsung ChromeBook. I’ve a new business, and I use Google Apps for just about everything (other than social networks and WordPress for the blogs). The ChromeBook was a cost-expedient choice: it was £230, is small and light, and gives battery life enough to last a day without worrying about taking a charger. Occasionally I drop onto the desktop PC in the office at home, but increasingly I am only using that for the browser. And when I hear horror stories about PCs and Macs going wrong, or changes to OSs leaving access to services all screwy (latest update to MacOS and GMail, for example), I feel vindicated in my decision to be a Cloud purist and wherever possible only use software that runs in browser.
You can argue about whether it’s a good idea to tie myself so much to a single supplier (personally I think the benefits outweigh the downsides at this time), but I have enough alternative channels to switch elsewhere (my email addresses are my own, not gmail ones, and I can message people through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as GMail – in fact LinkedIn is the single service I could least do without…). It seems, for the most part, to be working. And with the ubiquity of coffee shop wifi these days, I rarely have any challenges with the always online nature of it all.
But I do wonder who else is living this sort of life, because it doesn’t sound like the guys and gals at Google do, particularly.
When the ChromeBook first came along, I wondered if it was too ahead of its time (the first ones were), but also if Googlers would make the switch, particularly given that they had all quite recently then been given shiny new MacBooks. Watch for Google employees at conferences, and I’ll wager you’ll find that most of them haven’t. Even to the expensive, touch screen, shiny shiny ChromeBook Pixel.
If they’re not using them in anger, who the heck is? And what does that mean for design decisions when it comes to enhancing and releasing changes to ChromeOS?
I think it’s great. But that lack of clear users makes me feel very vulnerable…