IT managers take note: Chromebooks have quietly taken off

With the cloud changing the way most every company does business, there has been a shocking twist in the computer market. Chromebooks, once thought to be a novelty or cheap second-screen option, have taken off in the last year. 

From January to November of 2013, Chromebooks surged to 9.6% of the share of unit sales, according to sales research organization The NPD Group. For the same period in 2012, they only accounted for .2% of unit sales.

Are Chromebooks right for IT?

That had Chromebooks accounting for 21% of total notebook sales. As PC sales decline and tablets cut into laptop sales, this is a pretty significant development.

But is it significant to IT?

Here are some reasons Chromebooks may or may not be a fit for your organization. Of course, results may vary depending on your needs.

The plus side:

  • They’re portable. While not as easy to carry and travel with as a tablet, a lightweight body with a keyboard makes them attractive for business use.
  • They’re interchangeable. If a device is lost stolen or broken, switching out should be a breeze. If users are doing it right, they should rarely need to save anything to storage. If one breaks down, users could be back up and running within a few minutes on a replacement unit.
  • They’re cheap. Never underestimate saving money on hardware. Usually less than $300, these notebooks cost less than half of some business machines. That could make replacing existing technology – even last-gen units – a fairly good cost-saving measure.

The not-so-good

  • Unfamiliar operating systems. Chromebooks use Chrome OS, not Windows. That means users could have trouble adjusting to a whole new operating system. (Although with all those Windows 8 issues, that could be one of those “good problems to have.”)
  • You’re at the mercy of the cloud. These devices are built for cloud computing – for better and for worse. So with the connectivity and ease of use also comes cloud security concerns. If you’re worried about the security of the cloud, these devices represent all your worst nightmares.
  • Apps might be tricky. Your proprietary or enterprise apps might not play nice with the new devices. Apps in the cloud should be OK, but there aren’t any guarantees.

What do you think? Are these next-gen netbooks good for business? Have you tried rolling them out yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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