Some of the water cooler talk at Microsoft and Apple over the last several days, I suspect, involved some discussion about Chromebooks. Do you suppose there was any friendly banter about Windows 8 or the new iPad at the Googleplex cafes?
Conversations about potential Windows killers and tablet threats were underway as soon as the new Chromebooks were introduced. Of course, a caption of an Android eating an apple, the rolling green hills used in the Chromebook video, and using Tim Rizzo’s name (Microsoft senior director of online services) to log in during the Chromebook demos were more than coincidental, weren’t they?
It stands to reason that Microsoft has something to worry about. Microsoft reports that Windows & Windows Live OEM licensing now accounts for 75 percent of revenues. So if the Chrome OS continues to find an even greater base than the 160 million daily users it has now, it could prove somewhat costly to Microsoft. How costly? Well, with 90 percent of the world’s computers running Windows probably not very. On the other hand, some competitors see that as a massive opportunity.
But are we getting ahead of ourselves here?
In the post-PC era, as Steve Jobs might say, the world is going mobile. But not everyone is convinced that the days of the desktop are over. Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps blogs: Forrester Research forecasts that even in the US, a mature market, consumer laptop sales will grow at a CAGR of 8% between 2010 and 2015, and desktop sales will decline only slightly. Even in 2015, when 82 million US consumers will own a tablet, more (140 million) US consumers will own laptops.
In recent earnings reports, HP said revenues from consumer notebook and desktop sales dropped 23 percent in the last quarter. Dell also reported a sales drop of 7 percent and Acer’s shipments sunk 16 percent. Tablets obviously did some damage to their bottom lines. But with the new entry of zero-maintenance, cloud-centric Chromebook laptops on the horizon, the playing field is about to change and maybe even the game.