Analyst says Chromebook's future lies in business

Could it take off in the business world?

Sales of Chromebooks may not be going through the roof, but the embattled device isn't ready to kick the dust and has a potentially bright future in the business world, according to a report by Forrester analyst JP Gownder.

Forrester's recent Forrsights Hardware survey, which questioned 1,282 IT decision-makers from the UK, Canada, France, Germany and the US, found that 28% of respondents indicated some interest in Chromebooks.

Of these, 4% are already supporting Chromebooks, 4% are planning to do so and 16% are showing an interest. The remaining 4% came from executives reporting that employees had expressed an interest.

The stats show that 72% of organisations have no interest in Chromebooks and that they have considerable ground to make on tablets. However, Gownder maintains that while they aren't for every organisation, they fill a niche role for certain businesses.

These include those that have adopted Google's cloud services, such as Gmail or Google Apps, in addition to any that use cloud-based applications that can be accessed with a single password using Google's Chrome browser.

Low maintenance

Others he says could benefit include those looking at reducing or cutting out laptop maintenance within the business.

He says: "Imaging Windows PCs and deploying them to workers requires time and effort from infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. I&O leaders prefer less time spent in this area.

"Chromebooks require very little imaging; pilot users say any given device can be configured for a new user in under 15 minutes."

Gownder adds that Chromebooks are inexpensive, selling for as low as US$199 (around £129, or AU$219) and suit businesses with mobile workers that move from desk to desk, in addition to providing use to those with key departmental goals.

He says: "If your I&O department holds specific goals, such as lowering support costs, simplifying deployment of devices, ensuring device uptime, or projecting software changes quickly into the workforce, Chromebooks can help support those initiatives."

Think twice

However, he advises organisations with goals that include empowering "rich customer-facing computing scenarios", to consider tablets as an alternative choice.

He also warns that Chromebooks are unsuitable for some businesses, such as those with a big presence in China (where Gmail and Google Apps don't work) and those for which Windows applications are business-critical.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.