Meet the Top-Selling PC (Hint: It's Not From Apple)

The top-selling laptop at Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) is made by Samsung and powered by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) . Say hello to the Chromebook, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , and Toshiba. This is what you're competing with in the battle to stay atop the sales charts.

Detractors might find the Chromebook's rank surprising. After all, this is a "webtop" incapable of performing any meaningful work without an Internet connection. And we know from research that AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) are struggling to meet the demands of mobile data users. 

Yet as my Foolish colleague Rick Munarriz points out, some find the idea of cheap, on-the-go computing on the cloud attractive. And at $500, the Chromebook is about half the lowest price for Apple's MacBook Air. (Cheap Acer and Dell machines are priced about the same or less, however.)

So what if the Chromebook lacks offline access? Being tethered to the Web also eliminates the need for antivirus tools and manual software upgrades. Small-business users who lack a professional IT team must love the idea of using zero-maintenance systems, though initial reports suggest that large organizations also see the appeal. Computerworld says the city of Orlando, Fla., is trying out 600 of the devices.

I'd love to give you a more personalized look at the Chromebook, but as with so many others, I'm on a waiting list that appears to be about five weeks long. The Arctic White 3G model I was promised during the Google I/O developer conference is due to arrive between Aug. 3 and 10. I'll be eager to review it.

In the meantime, if you already have a Chromebook and have thoughts to share, please do so using the comments box below. You can also tell us why you wouldn't buy a Chromebook.

Either way, there's a new breed of browser-based webtops on the way, and they have the potential to change how we think about acquiring and using computing power. It's a disruptive shift, one that investors shouldn't ignore.

Care to learn more about cloud computing? We've made it easy with this free video report. You'll walk away with a winning pick from our Motley Fool Rule Breakers scorecard and a better understanding of how cloud computing is reshaping entire industries. Watch the video now -- it's 100% free.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, Amazon.com, and AT&T, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2011, at 8:19 PM, lucasmonger wrote:

    I guess I have to take issue with the title of this article. I don't think you can count a Chromebook as a PC. If you stretch the definition of PC to mean a personal computing device then maybe, but then smartphones and tablets could also be considered PCs. I think the more ubiquitous term of PC meaning a desktop or laptop computer running an operating system with files, folders, applications is the better definition, and if you accept that, then a Chromebook would be it's own category as it lacks the traditional file system that you see in Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Call it it's official moniker of Chromebook, or make up a new category (netPC, webPC, WebBook, whatever....).

    Now if you change the title to match your first sentence as the top selling laptop, then at least the form factor of a screen, keyboard, battery, and electronics seems right.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2011, at 11:44 PM, chromeuser wrote:

    In the time it took me to boot up my very capable "PC" for work, I was able to boot up my Chromebook, check my email, change my workout status on my Skydrive version of excel, which calculated my total run time and average splits, changed some numbers on my personal finance manager spreadsheet. Check my twitter feeds and download a pdf from community organization and read it. Oh yeah, and read this article and the response telling me I just did all that on a non pc : )

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 4:05 AM, Brettze wrote:

    Just replace the hard drive with a solid state drive that will increase batery life . as well as faster perform,ance! Why is it that solid state drives are so expensive?

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 4:38 AM, Etonian8 wrote:

    I am in the IT industry and I think the article is well written, and I think it is a silly way to split hairs.

    Why can't a Chromebook be called a PC? Smartphones are phones, but tablets could be considered PCs.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 7:55 AM, deemery wrote:

    Furthermore, sales from Amazon are hardly representative of computer sales as a whole or just sales to consumers, considering how many machines (particularly Macs) are sold either directly or from stores.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 7:57 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    You through Apple in just to catch attention. Apple never was, never will be, and doesn't ever expect to be the top in that market. It would only be a surprise to actually foolish fools.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 10:08 AM, apc63 wrote:

    As a very small business user (one pc) I hate the thought of not being able to work if my internet connection isn't bad - where I live I don't consider the internet that reliable yet.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 12:23 PM, EnzymeX wrote:

    I'm not surprised by the quick adoption of Chromebooks. Corporate America is clamoring to solve the desktop management cost issue, and consumers can now use the Pornbook, err... Chromebook ... to safely navigate the web without worry about viruses forcing a reload of all their laptop or tablet applications.

    Personally, I bought a Chromebook to replace my daughter's dying Windows laptop. She gets what she needs (Web access and Google Docs), and I avoid the headaches associated with cleaning up spyware and viruses (or the additional expense of paying for a more virus resistant Macbook Air).

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 2:22 PM, Borbality wrote:

    I have one of the beta Chromebooks from Google. I love it, but then again I didn't pay a cent for it.

    You can pretty much do whatever you need to do on it, and it'll only get better. I hate having to wait for my wife's Windows 7 laptop to start, but she still hasn't really embraced storing stuff online.

    Once we're able to really store stuff online in a way that's as simple and hassle-free as windows (anybody?), then this sort of thing will take off for real. Just access your directories online.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 2:59 PM, Janine110 wrote:

    If you store stuff online, how private is it? If you had alot of photos, is there the possibility that you would never see those photos again?

  • Report this Comment On July 24, 2011, at 11:26 PM, KennyStrawn wrote:

    I have to agree with this article entirely. Those Chromebook naysayers on InfoWorld and whatever crap M$/App£e-corrupted sites have easily been proved wrong by the Chromebook's success. It is the top-selling computer on the Internet (if you count both Amazon and Best Buy) for crying out loud! Wake up, PCW! Wake up, InfoWorld! Wake up, PCMag! Wake up, M$! Wake up, App£e! Repent! This staggering number of Chromebooks being sold as I type is the beginning of the end for you guys.

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