Google Expanding Global Chromebook Sales Efforts

Chromebooks will now be sold to customers in six more nations and in more Best Buy stores in the United States.

Chromebooks will soon be offered for sale in six more nations around the world as Google and its Chromebook manufacturing partners continue their efforts to popularize the smaller, lighter and inexpensive Internet-centric computers.

"Starting Tuesday, the Acer, HP and Samsung Chromebooks will begin rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands," Caesar Sengupta, the Google Chrome product management director, wrote in a March 19 post on the Google Chrome Blog.

The Chromebook programs will aim at consumer sales in those nations as well as sales to businesses and school users, Sengupta wrote.

"Over the past few months, Chromebooks have become a part of everyday life for many people—a computer for the kitchen, for on the go, or for sharing with the family (or not)," he wrote. "In the U.S., the Samsung Chromebook has been at the top of Amazon's best-selling laptop list for 149 days since launch."

In the United States, Google is also expanding its sales presence for Chromebooks by doubling the number of Best Buy stores where the devices are sold, meaning that Chromebooks will be offered for sale in more than 1,000 Best Buy stores, according to Sengupta. Consumers will be able to find the machines in the additional stores over the next few weeks, he wrote.

Google's Chromebook marketing efforts will continue to roll out to additional countries in the future, according to the post.

The Chromebooks will go on sale in Ireland starting March 26, in the Netherlands March 27, in Australia, Canada and Germany March 28, and in France the day after that, according to a related post by Rajen Sheth, Google's group product manager for Chromebooks, on the Google Official Enterprise Blog.

Presently, students and teachers in more than 2,000 schools are using Chromebooks, including 17,000 students in an entire school district in Richland Two in South Carolina, wrote Sheth. "We are excited to see what schools and businesses in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands do with Chromebooks."

In January, Jim Wong, president of Acer, said the company's sales of Chromebooks were doing well, while sales of Windows 8 computers were dropping, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Sales of the Chrome-based machines accounted for 5 percent to 10 percent of Acer's U.S. shipments since being released in November 2012.

The growth of the Chrome OS sales and the disappointing Windows 8 sales are causing Acer to look at new strategies, the report said. Across the industry, sales of traditional Windows desktop and laptop computers have been declining for some time as tablets and smartphones are attracting new users and sales, effectively replacing Windows machines in many cases.

Those realities are seen in recent global PC shipment figures, which dropped 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, to 89.8 million units, compared with one year ago, according to IDC.

Microsoft launched its new Windows 8 operating system late last October and computer makers have been hoping for a boom in sales.

Chromebooks and their desktop brethren Chromeboxes run Google's Chrome operating system and feature a wide range of preinstalled, cloud-based Google services and products, including Google Docs and Google Calendar.

Google and its partner vendors who have built Chromebooks so far, including Samsung and Asus, have been pushing Chromebooks as Internet-connected devices that can be cheaper, faster and more nimble than traditional laptops and notebooks. Chromebooks allow users to do their work online with less need for on-machine storage for large applications and files. One shortcoming, though, is that users need good connectivity to use their machines, and offline work can be a challenge, according to critics and reviewers.

At the same time, the machines can be inexpensive and well-featured devices that allow users to accomplish a wide range of tasks without the bloat and mass of a traditional laptop or notebook.

Consumers, however, haven't been jumping aboard the Chromebook bandwagon in huge numbers, based on sales so far. In fact, several systems makers have released Chromebooks in the last year, but the systems haven't stuck with consumers, causing some vendors to retreat or try again with new machines that offer expanded features.