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Google’s Chrome OS netbooks may be right around the corner according to DigiTimes which reports that ARM-based Chrome OS netbooks may debut as early as this month.  While that is great news, it is also terrible timing.  Apple’s iPad growth has been explosive.  People prefer the iPad to netbooks.  But it may not just be the iPad which has been hurting netbook sales.  The netbook market has become very saturated and growth has been declining steadily.

In fact, the growth rate has stalled so much that there was practically no growth by April 2010 as shown in the chart below.  These new Chrome OS netbooks may be wonderful, but for the price point that they are expected to sell an iPad or Galaxy Tab may be a viable option for the consumer.  Especially since both iOS and Android are doing very well and both platforms already have an abundance of apps that make them very appealing.

At the time of the announcement (back in July 2009) of Chrome OS it sounded like an intriguing idea.  I admit that I became a bit disappointed as more information was revealed, but I still wanted to try it.  I cannot say I still have the same feelings now.  I’d much prefer to get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tab than a Chrome OS netbook at this point in time.

It really boils down to the fact netbooks are no longer “cool” – the market is pretty much saturated and everyone has had one.  To quote Steve Jobs, “Netbooks aren’t better at anything.”  I think people have realized this and that’s why we are seeing a move away from them.  Even if Google were to rename the computers to smartbooks instead of netbooks, I don’t see it making such a huge difference.

Perhaps Google should consider another approach for Chrome OS or it may be dead on arrival.


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