Chromebook ripe for adoption despite naysayers, says report

by Darinia Khongwir    Jul 30, 2013


While the Chromebooks has been receiving a lot of bad press since their introduction over two years ago, research firm Forrester says it is time to ignore the naysayers.

J P Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals, blogs that it is time for enterprises to take a fresh look at whether Chromebooks are ripe for adoption.

In a major new Forrester report, an analysis of the enterprise Chromebook space, it is clear that Chromebooks won’t replace all or even most Windows PCs, Macs, and tablets. But for companies that are (1) willing to segment their workforces (offering Chromebooks to specific classes of workers in a mixed environment with PCs and tablets), (2) adopting Gmail and/or Google Apps, or who are (3) deploying the devices in a customer-facing (think kiosk) scenario, Chromebooks are definitely worth investigating.

Gownder writes that when enterprises adopt Chromebooks, infrastructure professionals can spend more time on innovation and not maintenance. Chromebooks offer the prospect of radically reducing the amount of time IT staff spends “keeping the lights on” for devices.

As one IT leader told the writer, “instead of spending time installing software on laptops, or creating images, I’d rather have my desktop services people work on implementation of technologies related to location awareness or 3D printing.” The CIO of another company added, “I want to get out of the laptop business.” Chromebooks offer high uptime, low service costs, and scalable deployment of new web-based applications and content.

Employees naturally gravitate toward collaborative computing scenarios. A move to corporate Gmail remains pretty much a prerequisite to the adoption of Chromebooks. Once Gmail is in place, Chromebooks can promote collaborative work styles.

One CIO reported that workers at his company started to use Google Drive and other collaboration tools “organically and automatically” after the adoption of Gmail. Chromebooks reinforce the value of these tools and represent the next logical step in empowering collaboration.

Although the analysis shows that Infrastructure buyers should consider Chromebooks, these devices are not for everyone. Companies with a large presence in China, for example, will find that Google’s famed clashes with the Chinese government handicaps the performance of Google Apps. Although Chromebooks are highly portable (and offer optional wireless subscription options), for many hyper-portable business scenarios, tablets might be a better choice.

Overall, though, it’s time to take the Google enterprise proposition seriously—and enterprises should conduct a fresh evaluation of Chromebooks.