Wal-Mart May Be Google's Secret Weapon

The PC may be dying, but good luck convincing Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) that the laptop is on the way out.

The world's leading search provider announced yesterday that the number of stores stocking Chromebook notebooks will triple this week. Between Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) beginning to sell the $199 Acer Chromebook yesterday and Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS  ) carrying Chromebooks from three different manufacturers later this week, it's going to be hard to avoid the line's retail presence.

Chromebook's presence in 2,800 Wal-Mart superstores and 1,500 Staples office supply stores will triple the notebook's availability to 6,600 physical stores.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) aren't necessarily worried about laptops running Google's web-heavy Chrome operating system.

Microsoft feels as if user familiarity and access to Office and countless other Windows games and software applications make its laptops more than worth the premium. Apple is even higher along on the prestige ladder, but that didn't stop Google from putting out the $1,299 Chromebook Pixel netbook earlier this year that clearly targeted Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Microsoft and Apple taking a nonchalant attitude is paying off for now. Chromebooks have yet to make any serious dent in the market. The bad news for Microsoft and Apple is that the pie itself is shrinking.

Back in April, industry tracker IDC reported that the number of PCs shipped during this year's first quarter plunged 13.9% to 76.3 million from the prior year.

When your back's to the Wal-Mart
Google clearly thinks it has a shot at making a difference at the retail level.

The Staples deal may generate some buzz as the country's leader in office supplies. Staples is stocking Chromebooks months ahead of its two nearest rivals, and once all three chains are carrying the laptops, it's going to make things interesting for corporate America. The uniform presence will validate the platform, especially for businesses that are flocking to more and more cloud-based solutions.

However, the big deal here really is Wal-Mart. The world's largest retailer doesn't stock new $199 laptops. The cheapest new laptop, netbook, or ultrabook on Walmart.com starts at $249. Chromebook is going to stand out when someone comes in looking for the cheapest way to get online.

Shoppers don't go to Wal-Mart to talk up the greeter or embrace the minimalist architecture of exposed beams. They're there to save money, and that's going to make Acer's $199 Chromebook the belle of the bargain-priced ball.

 If Chromebook can't make it there, it won't be making it anywhere.

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  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2013, at 6:53 AM, Mreiher wrote:

    It will be amazing if this works. Chrome books are cheap, but with such limited use, they're really a hard sell. For a few bucks more there are way more interesting alternatives from cheap laptops to iPads.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2013, at 8:13 AM, normcf wrote:

    In Best Buy there is an employee dedicated to explaining the merits of ChromeOS, but there is no mention of that in Walmart. I suspect there will be some returns but, still, many people will be satisfied. Once people start realizing the simplicity and security, we will see what buzz comes out.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2013, at 8:28 AM, madmilker wrote:

    this O'fart loves his Samsung Chromebook.

    Those boys and girls stay busy everyday updating it too....

    The New York Times don't like it when I post...

    Yahoo don't like it when I post....

    The Washington Post don't like it when I post...

    but boy when I do.....

    bugs, worms and even trojan horsey's invade it like bee's on a honeycomb....

    It ain't about cheap....

    It's about keeping all that kind of stuff out of your hair...

    and those nice young boys and girls work their little butt's off doing just that...

    if only they could get the videos to play better...

    but this O'fart ain't the type over on them there porn sites looking either...

    Oh!

    You reckon that 5 and Dime gave them a good deal since Ms Mayer was sitting on the Wal*Mart Board of Directors before being appointed CEO of that Exclamation Mark.

    This O'fart don't shop there because it be a RED company...

    why else does it have their Global Procurement Office in China and put less than 5% foreign in all their stores there.

    Would you deprive your country of foreign items?

    duh!

    oops! I forgot...

    Retail makes NOTHING...it only moves a countries currency...

    Did you know 1975 was the last year America had a trade surplus...

    You reckon those nice boys and girls at Google has ever Google that...

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2013, at 7:15 PM, GSFFatTheMart wrote:

    I've been waiting for a good deal on these things. I guess at $199 I don't really have any choice but to pick one up.

    http://www.GroceryShopforFREEatTheMart.com

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