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10 reasons why Chromebooks make good sense for business

Chromebooks may have gotten off to a slow start, but they're gaining ground fast. See what benefits they might offer your business.
 
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The Chromebook was initially met with scorn and mockery. That has changed.

Running on a foundation of Linux and selling at a price point nearly anyone can afford, the Chromebook has finally hit its stride. As of this writing, the top two best-selling laptops on Amazon are:

  • Acer C720 Chromebook
  • Samsung 11.6 Chromebook

In fact, six of the top 20 best-selling laptops are Chromebooks.

There's a reason for this popularity. And there are plenty of reasons Chromebooks are a good choice for many businesses. Let's look at why the Chromebook belongs in companies across the globe.

1: Cost effectiveness

You'd be hard-pressed to top the price point of the Chromebook. Unless you're looking at the Pixel (which is a stunning piece of work), you'll be dropping about $179 to $300 USD for one of these devices. At the pace hardware is replaced these days, that's a welcome prospect for businesses — especially for a reliable mobile device. The Chromebook offers outstanding ROI. As the years progress, usage won't bog these babies down, so (barring a hardware issue) they'll work as well as they did when you first bought them.

2: Seamless integration with Google Apps

More and more small businesses are migrating onto Google Apps, and they'll want devices that integrate into that platform with ease. That's the Chromebook. On no other platform will you find such perfect integration with Google Apps. And with Google Apps enjoying increasing success within the world of business, the Chromebook will become an essential element in Google's toolkit.

3: Speed

No other device gives you this much speed for such a low price. Because ChromeOS is a single-minded platform, it doesn't suffer from bloat like most other operating systems. A device featuring an Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz and 2 GB of RAM feels far more powerful than it should. And with a boot time of between four and 10 seconds — and instant-on from sleep — you'll lose no work to laggy machines.

4: Efficiency

By its nature, the Chromebook lends itself to an efficient experience. When you work with a Chromebook, you know what you're getting into. Although you can use the internet exactly as you would any other machine, you'll find fewer distractions than you would on a standard PC. You work, full screen (for the most part), focused on the task at hand. And because there is absolutely no learning curve, getting up to speed on the device is like hopping from one web browser to another.

5: Reliability

Remember, ChromeOS is based on Linux, so it already enjoys an incomparable level of reliability. And because the users won't be installing the standard applications, there's little to no concern for malware and virus infections. These devices just work. That means an added cost savings for businesses, very little downtime, and hardly any user training. Imagine not having to spend resources removing viruses and malware on a daily basis. Imagine not having to hand-hold users on how to use a PC.

6: Browser-based work

Most everything we do now is tackled through a web browser -- so much so that the software on a standard PC is slowly becoming waste. With that in mind, why would most users even need a standard PC when they can do everything they need with a web browser -- and one of the best browsers on the market?

7: Apps and add-ons

If you think the Chromebook is nothing but an overhyped web browser, think again. With an ever-growing app store, there are more tools than you might expect. And as the Chromebook continues to rise in popularity, the app store will continue to expand to include increasing numbers of business-focused tools.

8: Cloud friendliness

Remember a few years back when no one knew what the cloud was going to be? Now we know, and it's become essential to doing business. The Chromebook is the ideal cloud-centric tool on the market. But even without the cloud, the Chromebook still functions (working in offline mode). If your work has migrated to the cloud — or soon will — why not make use of the single best cloud platform available?

9: Outstanding hardware

I've compared the trackpads and keyboards of the low-end Chromebooks to those of higher-end hardware. I have to say, the Chromebooks get the nod on almost every instance -- especially with the trackpads. Getting quality builds for such a low cost is a huge plus for businesses that need machines that users can use effectively. Even comparing the flagship Chromebook Pixel to a MacBook Pro with Retina, the Chromebook hardware wins, hands down.

10: Elegance

I've already mentioned the Pixel, but it deserves special mention. If you're looking for a piece of hardware to really and truly impress clients, walk past the MacBook Pros and go directly to the Pixel. The Pixel is without rival for screen, keyboard, and trackpad. Period. Once you've experienced the Pixel, all else will pale in comparison. For CEOs looking to get that special nod from clients and other executives, the Pixel is the Aston Martin of laptops. It may seem shallow (and something few would admit to), but a solid first impression can sometimes make or break a business deal. An ugly truth made beautiful with the Chromebook Pixel.

Here to stay?

The Chromebook is here to stay. For those who say "nay," I would first ask they use it before they abuse it. The Chromebook is an ideal tool for much of what users do on a day-to-day basis. With incredible cost effectiveness, reliability, longevity, and seamless integration with Google Apps, choosing a Chromebook for business is a no brainer.

Your take

What do you think? If you have yet to try a Chromebook, what's stopping you? If you have tried it, what did you love/hate about the device?

Also see…

 


About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

15 comments
mtb-techrep
mtb-techrep

There's one problem with chromebooks: Business-specific software.


Many of my customers have custom-written Windows applications they need to run on their desktops.  Setting them up with remote desktop options to run these packages remotely is too slow and unreliable.  Sadly, they need their Windows laptops.


When Chromebooks come with a reliable version of Wine, then we'll be talking.


For now, they're perfect for students ... not business.

Trentski
Trentski

I think Jack should get a job in IT, maybe even the help desk, just to see how business really works

Trentski
Trentski

This would be a nightmare for any IT department to support, plus  due to security reasons, most companies wouldn't do it, knowing google goes through their shit for information

merelyjim
merelyjim

My Samsung Chromebook is my BOYD. Two weeks ago, got the pop-up for the FBI Virus. Laughed a bit, closed Chrome, opened Chrome again, no problems. I imagine the same result with a Mac Book, but I would have paid a lot more. Windows would have simply been infected and broken.

I'm sure ChromeOS is a problem for some, but it sure isn't for me.

dadman9999
dadman9999

look at it from a shareholders perspective. does that big, large bank/insurance/telecom company you own stocks in really need to spend what they do on the Cost Of Ownership that a windows environment demands?. when you phone them, and the person on the other end is doing nothing more than data retrevial/entry, why, are you as a shareholder paying for that ?. now what % of that companys workforce does anything more than data entry/retrevial ?. why isnt that company that you own stocks in looking at reducing that C.O.O? chrome or any thin client cant replace 100% of the workforce, but all large corps use more than windows, and a vast majority of large (widely held) companys already have migrated to web based business application, so why are the majority of the users using windows based pcs, when clearly a browser based solution will do. 

so lets say the average workforce that is customer facing is around 50%, people who do nothing more than interact with a customer base. how many of those NEED a windows environment to do their job?. 5% ? 10 %

more than 10% ?. since most large companys have moved to browser based, in house solutions for total staff deployment of thier typical daily work environment, what exactly does the average person need a windows based pc for? . if its word/excel, then onedrive offers basic word excell stuff. if you need more than that, then you are not a average user, you would be "specialised" and fall into that +/- 10 category. so lets bump that up to 25% of your customer facing workforce absolutely needs somthing more than a browser based inernet appliance. that is still 25% - (chrome/whatever) COO. say, 12.5%. as a shareholder, you are paying whatever "widely held" company 12.5% less in IT costs. if you are a shareholder, and you care about the company you have put your hard earned dollars into, you absolutely need to ask these questions at your next shareholders meeting. 

yes. you as a shareholder are paying for it. in terms of less free cash flow, which will affect your stock price and dividens(if any).

extremeskillz
extremeskillz

Chromebooks are great for individuals but without centralized control that most enterprises have this is just another device a company needs to implement BYOD policies for and a management nightmare. Even my current client has 10 users with Active Directory and wireless on Radius. This device wouldn't work for them. However all my Linux and Windows desktops work great so the limited features of the Chromebook just doesn't work in my case. This is one thing I am not seeing in conversations regarding Chromebooks in regards to centralized management. I like the device and has it's use cases but wouldn't work for me.

kb1493
kb1493

The ultimate question is whether the Chromebook will meet the requirements of the enterprise or SMB that is considering adopting it. If the answer is Yes, then it may be adopted as the price point of it can certainly be attractive. But if it falls short on requirements, or requires an excessive amount of compromise to be made, then it won't be adopted, plain and simple.

Mah
Mah

@dirklance0519


You wouldn't want to run Autodesk Inventor on anything less than a high end graphics workstation with NVidia Quadro class graphics cards. You certainly would not want to run it on anything other than a high end gaming class laptop, and those things are not very portable - short battery life, hot and heavy - so that is rather pointless.


It is possible to run Autodesk AutoCAD 360 and Autodesk Pixlr on a Chromebook, and it may be possible to run Inventor on a remote desktop if you need remote access from a laptop, but I would wouldn't recommend it.


Enterprise ERP programs are server based not desktop based (common sense really because enterprise ERP data is held on servers not on distributed Windows and laptops), and most run using a web interface. For this use Chromebook are perfectly suited, and superior to Windows because of security, ease of use, zero maintenance, and higher worker productivity.

Chromebooks do not support Adobe Premiere Pro specifically, but they do support more suitable video editing and transcoding for field editing and upload from portable laptop and mobile phones - for example WeVideo.  http://www.wevideo.com/business

These are more suitable for most business use, and do stuff like transcoding automatically so they are simple to use and do not require in depth technical knowledge to use effectively. If you are a business that does professional video editing services - eg. a wedding photographer, then by all means get a professional high resolution digital camera and one high end Windows workstation for you professional video editor for your office. If you a a major movie maker like Pixar or Disney, then you would be using high end Linux based video editing equipment and Linux server farms running Cinepaint and custom in-house developed video editing, special effects, and rendering software, not Windows PCs.

dirklance0519
dirklance0519

Can I run my Autodesk Inventor 2012 in chromebook? we use that a lot here in our business.

Or how about Adobe Premiere Pro? 


We also use an inhouse ERP software application to run our processes. I believe not all businesses rely on the cloud.


It would take a lot more than google apps and a fancy chromebook laptop to make the majority adapt.

Mah
Mah

@extremeskillz  

Ignorance about Chromebooks is prevalent, but for some reason, a complete lack of knowledge doesn't seem to stop the ignorant ranting. 


Chromebooks can be purchased as individual devices for consumers, or linked to a Google Apps for Domain domain. Schools and businesses use the latter. A Google Apps Domain corresponds roughly to a Windows Active Domain, with centralised user management, domain email and access control, remote installation of apps or blacklisting/removal of apps, and security lockdown of devices based on users and groups. This is achieved through a web console, and Chromebooks are zero maintenance, zero toucn administration devices - meaning it is never necessary for an administrator to tough or log into a Chromebook ever. Everything is done by setting profiles for groups of Chromebooks.


The truth is completely contrary to what you are claiming through ignorance, Chromebooks are actually far more centrally manageable and can be controlled and locked down far more tightly than Windows client devices. They are also vastly easier to manage than Windows desktops, which is why they have proven so popular in schools for example - the TCO of a Chromebook  is about 30% of the cost of a Windows laptop or desktop, and the reason for this is because the system administration time and cost is a fraction of a Windows desktop/laptop, and that is down to centralised management of Chromebooks.

cac1031
cac1031

@extremeskillz  But there is central management control!  Not just with Google Apps but for Chromebooks enrolled for a $30 one-time fee into a management console.  This is why they are so great for schools.  Administrators can block websites, limit users, put devices into quiosk mode and push apps to specific devices or groups of devices.  This is a very important benefit for all types of organizations.


https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/1289314?hl=en

jqbecker
jqbecker

@extremeskillz , true - mostly. There are some management tools when connected to a Google Apps account, and also 3rd- party enhancements that overlay on top of Google's tools. The real killer are the vertical apps, like Quickbooks, Medical, Dental, AutoPart stores, etc. 99% of those verticals run only on Windows.

Of course, you could set up a Terminal Server and just use RDP to serve up the verticals while still using the ChomeBook for everything else. But there still is a catch: some of the verticals require Office as a reports export target. Then you are really stuck - and your ChromeBook becomes dead weight. 

My business is to support small medical offices, and I have one client who went 100% ChromeBooks - we dumped their Windows practice management and migrated to PracticeFusion (cloud-based), which is Chrome-optimized. Beautiful. Cheap.  

A different client could not migrate off windows-only practice manangement software, so we put up a Win2008 app server, and the therapists have Samsung tablets or ChromeBooks with RDP clients. Less Beautiful, Less Cheap, but works well.

Gisabun
Gisabun

@dirklance0519 I agree. From a business standpoint, with the exception of a small business, they are mostly useless.

As for Jack's top 10, many of them are subsets of the others.

Then there is #9. Most low end systems [Chromebooks or otherwise] tend not to have top of the line hardware. Don't expect the latest video card. CPU is fine now but wait until there is an "OS" upgrade [think of the resource difference between XP and Vista or OS X 10.6 and 10.7 [I believe]. In both cases, the newer OS wouldn't function on older hardware for many people.

For #8: Cloud friendly, if you trust Google with your data.

For #10. Elegance? I don't think most in business really care.

extremeskillz
extremeskillz

@Mah I'm not ignorant and I am fully aware that google apps can connect to active directory: Hense a sync agent on my domain controller to Googles servers ( do have this working a dev environment).

 This will work for some but in a security enriched environment this is a tough sell syncing AD users to googles servers.

As I have mentioned chromebooks have their use cases and work very well in certain environments. I am well versed on every platform and you sir are ignorant for not reading my comments.



extremeskillz
extremeskillz

@jqbecker I agree with what you say and Chromebooks do make an excellent thin client. Everything has a use case and Chromebooks fit specific needs.