Chromebooks at Walmart are a terrible idea, and are irreparably going to damage the brand
I, like many of you, was very excited to hear at first that Google was going to be rolling out Chromebooks to more retailers. Finally, Google seemed to be getting serious about getting ChromeOS into people's hands.
This was a terrible idea.
Mistake Number One: Device Choice
Google decided to roll with the Acer C7 for the expansion. Instead of going with the slightly more expensive, but much nicer and better selling Samsung Series 3, they've opted for a device with a smaller screen, lower battery life, lack of a Search key, and a noisier Intel processor. Why in the world didn't they go with the Series 3? Larger screen, lighter device, thinner body, dedicated Search key, silent performance, amazing battery life, and USB 3.0 port. The Acer is by no means a bad machine, but I certainly wouldn't consider it to be Chrome OS's best foot forward.
Mistake Number Two: Presentation
At most Walmarts I've been to, they don't even have Wifi set up for their demo devices. So no internet connection for a device based around the internet. This wouldn't be such a big deal, because at least there are some preloaded apps in the guest mode, right? No, all that they have preloaded into guest mode are Chrome, Files, and the Chrome Web Store. Two of those are worthless without an internet connection, and the Files app is lackluster, to say the least. Especially considering the demo models are on Chrome 25, lacking a significant number of improvements made to the OS, including the redesigned Files app.
Mistake Number Three: Staff Training
The first two of my grievances wouldn't be quite that bad, in all honesty, if it weren't for the horrendous training of the staff, or, as it appears to be, the complete dearth of it. Earlier today I saw a sales rep helping out an older gentleman looking for a replacement laptop. The rep was fairly young, college aged, glasses, tall, the kind you'd expect to be knowledgeable about tech. He showed some W8 laptops, which the gentleman was nonplussed about the UI change. Showing him the Chromebook, he went on to explain it. "It's just like Windows." Wince. The gentleman asked if he'd be more limited than Windows on the Chromebook. "You wouldn't be limited by anything. You'll still have all your programs, they'll just be called apps." Looked down to make sure I hadn't been disemboweled. The gentleman bought it, although I'm not sure if he'll keep it. Google needs to do SOMETHING to educate the sales reps about the device. They at least need to mention the Drive storage. It was just awful, and I foresee terrible return rates on these things just because people don't know what they're getting into.