And lastly, there needs to be some method to address the fact that not everyone wants to use Google products exclusively. Yes, I realize if one buys a Chromebook this is exactly the mindset they're signing on for. However, I still think there must be a means of allowing for some common ground here. For example, finding a way to get Dropbox and Skype for Linux working would do wonders for making the Chromebook even more attractive to anyone on the fence about buying one.
Unfortunately, this probably isn't going to happen. Google has its own VoIP solution and they have no reason to pursue getting anything without the Google brand to work on these notebooks. After all, it's a Google operating system, not a Linux distribution. Google apparently doesn’t see any value in changing what is already working well for them at this point. Remember, Google does what Google thinks is best – often to the dismay of its users.
At the time of this article's posting, Google is holding a contest of sorts for anyone who can successfully hack the Chrome OS. The idea is that Google is very serious about Chromebooks being among the most secure portable computing appliances around.
I find this ironic, considering the various malmare challenges Google has had recently with their extensions already. Nevertheless, Google is serious about making Chromebooks a useful, secure experience for their target user base.
What'll be interesting to see is if Google can push past this "secondary" computer path Chromebooks are on. Can Google actually get Chromebooks to a point where we can start using them as fully functional computers instead of "portable word processors"? At this point, there's still a lot of opportunity for Google to surprise us.
My best guess for the future of Chromebooks is as follows. As time goes on, the hardware will continue to gain processing power, even as the price lowers. Additionally, as more printers are traded in for newer models, the issue of Google printing will become less of a hassle than it is now for those of us with legacy printers. And finally, there's Google Hangouts and Google Plus to consider. I enjoy using Google Plus and Hangouts as much as anyone. Sadly though, no matter how much Google pushes, it's the tech-crowd using these tools and not the casual masses.
This means communication tools between Chrome OS users and users of other platforms will remain primarily tied to text-based solutions, and so will lack a unified video chat due to end-user habits. In the future – the distant future – perhaps this won't matter anymore. But that future hasn't arrived just yet and that leaves the Chromebook as a secondary computer at best.
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