Habits are hard to break in the best of times. Ingrained optimism recommends staying the course, no matter how ineffectual or even painful it might be. That is especially true when it comes to business technologies. Though numerous organizations regularly investigate various new hardware and software offerings, longstanding solutions are often unaccountably bulletproof.
But in the worst of times—say, during a global pandemic causing unfathomable damage to countless businesses and whole economies—thinking the unthinkable becomes considerably easier, even shifting away from deeply embedded business technologies. That point makes the arrival of Dell’s new Latitude Chromebook Enterprise laptops and 2-in-1s especially timely and intriguing.
Chromebooks and ‘cloud worker’ evolution
Chromebooks are obviously nothing new. Google announced the Linux-based Chrome OS project in 2009 and the first Chromebook laptops (from Samsung and Acer) began shipping in June 2011. But those first products’ bare-bones features and low cost largely set the tone for how Chromebooks would be perceived and accepted by commercial markets.
Google tried to shift that view in 2013 with the introduction of its Chromebook Pixel which featured modern design points, significantly better performance (via Intel Core i5 chips) and (at the time) the highest pixel density available in any laptop. But the Pixel’s price was comparable to high end Windows laptops and Apple’s MacBook Air, causing many to question and even condemn Google’s strategy.
That said, Chromebooks gained significant popularity in value-sensitive markets, particularly education where they eventually gained 60+ percent share. However, Google is a company that tends to take the long view. In 2018, the company appointed John Solomon (who previously held executive roles at Apple and HP) VP of the Chrome OS group and tasked him with evolving Chrome into a computing platform thoroughly suited for the needs of modern businesses, developers and OEMs.
In a June 16, 2020 blog, Solomon described the work his team had achieved but noted that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has injected a stochastic shock to the trendlines. The idea of having cloud-based devices that can be accessible anytime and anywhere is no longer a nice-to-have, it will likely become a necessity for many businesses … What we thought would be five years out is now happening far more quickly.”
While Google has long believed that, “almost any business role can be a cloud worker … COVID-19 has dramatically made this point … Remote work has not just been re-prioritized, but it’s been redefined.” Solomon also noted that, “Google is developing more flexibility in how we approach work. And many other organizations are entering a workplace that’s even ‘beyond place’—a more fluid construct of where and how work gets done.”
Work from anywhere with Dell’s Latitude Chromebook Enterprise
Solomon’s points and Google’s efforts to modernize Chrome are evident and clearly refined in Dell’s new Latitude Chromebook Enterprise products. How so? The new 14-inch laptops and 2-in-1s are based on the company’s flagship Latitude business solutions, and offer sleek machined aluminum or carbon fiber designs, edge-to-edge display and new touchpad and modernized keyboard features.
Dell noted that its solutions are the first business laptops to offer Low Blue Light 4k displays which provide better readability and eye comfort. These points, along with acoustic noise reduction and other features are designed to enhance workplace activities, including video calls. The optional 66Whr battery can support up to 21 hours of battery life which Dell says is the longest of any premium Chromebook.
Dell co-designed the Latitude Chromebook Enterprise solutions with Intel as part of the Project Athena innovation program. The new systems support LTE mobile broadband and Intel WiFi 6. They also offer up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processors for boosting productivity and performance in bandwidth-intensive activities, such as Google Sheets.
Finally, systems can be managed, maintained and secured with offerings that have long been available to business customers and their IT managers and administrators, such as Dell ProSupport tech support services and its Workspace ONE unified endpoint management (UEM) platform. Businesses can also acquire, deploy and maintain the new solutions through Dell’s PC as a Service (PCaaS) program.
So, what are the final takeaways from this announcement? First and foremost, the time for organizations to seriously consider and significantly adopt business-class Chromebooks appears to be at hand. Google’s John Solomon is likely correct in his assessment of the impact that COVID-19 is having on why and how companies are adopting and adapting to cloud-based workplace functions and solutions. But at the same time, that evolutionary shift will only succeed if organizations have access to laptops, 2-in-1s and other client devices that fully support their and their employees’ needs.
That is where Dell and its new Latitude Chromebook Enterprise offerings come in. The company clearly understands business computing, from client devices to the data center. Given its own considerable experience and the efforts of partners, like Intel and its Project Athena program, Dell has crafted new solutions that will enable organizations and their workers to conduct business effectively and securely wherever they happen to be.
That should help drive demand for Latitude Chromebook Enterprise solutions in finance, education, health care, manufacturing and many other industries. But it is important to emphasize that point about supporting workers regardless of where they are. For Dell, “Working from Anywhere” is anything but a simplistic marketing phrase. While the location of work and the nature of workplace technologies will continue to evolve, Dell’s longstanding commitment to fully and innovatively supporting its customers’ businesses and business needs will remain the same.
Charles King is a principal analyst at PUND-IT and a regular contributor to eWEEK. © 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.