Consumer Electronics

Google's Dirt Cheap Laptops Are Coming to Nine More Countries

Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromebooks, the low-cost laptops powered by Google’s web-dependent Chrome operating system, are coming to nine more countries. Google announced, via poem, that Chromebooks would soon be available for purchase in New Zealand, the Philippines, Norway, Denmark, Mexico, Chile, Belgium, Spain and Italy.

Although Chromebooks make up just a tiny share of the larger computing market, consumers in many of these countries could find Google’s laptops to be particularly enticing.

Cheap but limited
Last year, Google’s Chromebooks accounted for only about 1% of the total PC market. The vast majority of the more than 300 million PCs sold in 2013 ran Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows operating system.

Nevertheless, Chromebooks have attracted considerable attention, particularly from Microsoft. The Windows-maker has taken aim at the laptops in a series of recent ads geared at convincing consumers to buy a Windows PC instead.

Chromebooks are notable primarily because of their price tag: Acer’s C720 Chromebook retails for just $199. Despite its price, it’s currently the number four-ranked laptop on Amazon.com (the top-ranked laptop is another Chromebook, the $267 Acer C720P). Although Chromebooks are extremely limited, being unable to run any local software, they are perfectly suited to web apps.

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Not just a book
Google has begun to expand the operating system to other form-factors, including all-in-one PCs (Chromebases) and desktops (Chromeboxes). Last month, Google, along with chipmaker Intel and several PC OEMs, announced several new Chromebook, Chromebase and Chromebox models powered by Intel’s latest processors.

With their limited functionality, Chromebooks clearly aren’t for everyone, but their low-cost has proved incredibly attractive to certain users, particularly educational institutions. The Wall Street Journal noted that in 2013 Chromebooks accounted for nearly 20% of PC sales to U.S. schools.

Chromebooks go global
With the addition of these nine new nations, Google’s Chromebooks will now be available in a total of 26 countries. That’s still a tiny fraction of the world, but Google is clearly continuing to emphasize its web-dependent operating system.

In countries with developing economies, Chromebooks could prove particularly enticing. As Google continues its global rollout, Microsoft’s Windows could come under further pressure.