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谷歌Chromebook崛起,已超越苹果Mac

John Patrick Pullen 2016年09月12日

这些笔记本电脑不贵,花钱少,功能多。

五年多点儿以前,时任Chrome业务副总裁的桑德尔•皮查伊在谷歌2011年开发者大会上登台发言。他代表这家搜索引擎巨擘展示了一款令人意外的产品。它并非新的广告业务,也不是搜索算法或者app。相反,这是一种全新的个人电脑操作系统——Chrome OS。

对谷歌来说,这款产品有多重要呢?嗯,皮查伊现在成了公司CEO。而Chrome,也就是该操作系统的支柱,成了全世界使用范围最广的浏览器。今年,安装了Chrome OS的计算机销量首次超过Mac电脑。换句话说就是,Chrome已经取得了巨大成功。

2011年开始打造这款操作系统时,谷歌打算根据当时以及未来(也就是现在)人们使用计算机的方式对其进行优化。他们首先观察了市场上的其他操作系统。谷歌Chrome业务产品管理高级总监坎·刘说:“从设计算起,大多数操作系统的历史都超过了25年。如果想一想现在你怎么用电脑,我敢说95%的时间都用在了浏览器上。”

因此,谷歌对Chrome的研发以浏览器为中心。刘说,这种做法消除了Windows和Mac等老牌系统“这些年来形成的许多层壳。这些系统设计之初所围绕的一些用例如今已经不复存在(比如软盘驱动器),而且为病毒攻击留下了更多的漏洞。”

由此诞生了Chromebook,也就是安装了Chrome OS的笔记本电脑。它们的形状、尺寸和价格多种多样,但有一些共同点。它们最显著的特点包括启动速度快,内置了病毒保护功能,可自动升级而且普遍都不贵。

出于这些原因,只想上上网的休闲网民越来越青睐Chromebook。在一度由苹果公司主导的教育领域,这些笔记本电脑也越来越受欢迎。Chromebook超越Mac电脑是个有趣的现象,原因是谷歌发布Chrome OS时,专家都认为它的目标是微软以及当时很流行而且价格不高的超极本和上网本。然而,推出Windows 10后,微软的战略转向了混合型电脑,从而在低成本笔记本电脑领域为谷歌留下了机会。

电脑厂商纷纷跟进。正是出于这个原因,Chromebook来自许多不同的公司,就像大家能看到各式各样的安卓手机和平板电脑那样。

目前,宏碁、华硕、戴尔、LG、三星和东芝都推出了Chromebook。海尔和海信的Chromebook是市场上价格最低的产品,惠普的一款产品则跻身最佳Chromebook之列,售价几乎达到400美元。每种Chromebook都略有不同,这有助于满足各类用户的需要。宏碁的R11等Chromebook有许多端口;其他一些产品,比如戴尔的Chromebook 13,则有表现卓越的电池(可续航13个小时)。

但这些产品有一点很统一,那就是人们的使用方式。首先,在云计算越发盛行的环境下,人们更有理由使用Chrome这样以浏览器为核心的操作系统。当然,谷歌已经打造了一整套工作型app,比如Docs、Sheets和Gmail,但如果大家无法摆脱微软的产品,Word、Excel和Outlook也都有基于浏览器的解决方案。同样的,Chrome也有网络商店,可以用来添加为Chromebook量身定制的app。

不过,Chrome OS改变市场格局的杀手锏在于它可以让你的电脑变成任何你可能在用的Chromebook。只需用谷歌用户名和密码登陆,所有的app、文件、书签和其他东西就都会出现在屏幕上,和你此前在使用的Chromebook一模一样。

Chrome的能力甚至在教育领域以外实现了赶超。举例来说,有些公司正在把低成本计算机整合到它们的工作流程中。刘说:“所有星巴克都配备了Chromebook,以供员工日常使用,无论是检查邮件还是记录[人力资源]数据,做什么都行。”

然而,如果说Chromebook有一点不足的话,那就是它们自带的存储空间往往太小。由于非常依赖网络,人们可以不在这些笔记本电脑上安装大硬盘,从而降低成本。谷歌为用户提供了100G免费存储空间,从而避开了这个问题(至少最初的两年是这样)。但就算基本上都靠互联网,未连接网络时Chromebook也不会变得一无是处,Gmail和谷歌Docs等app可以脱机工作,并在重新联网后进行数据同步。但无论如何,考虑到如今我们的联网程度已经如此之高,这可能不会花很长时间。(财富中文网)

 

译者:Charlie

审校:詹妮

A little over five years ago, Sundar Pichai, then Google’s vice president of Chrome, took the stage at the company’s 2011 developer conference and revealed a surprising new product from the search giant. It wasn’t a new advertising program, search algorithm, or app. Instead, it was an entirely new personal computing operating system, Chrome OS.

How important has this product been for Google? Well, Pichai is now the company’s CEO. Chrome, the web browser that’s the backbone of the operating system, is the most widely used in the world. And this year, Chrome OS machines outsold Macs for the first time. So in other words, Chrome has caught on big time.

When Google set out to build a system optimized for how people were using their computers in 2011 — and how they’d use them today — they began by looking at the operating systems on the market. “Most of these systems were designed 25-plus years ago,” says Kan Liu, Google’s senior director of product management with Chrome. “If you think of what you do on a PC today, I would argue that 95% of the time that you spend is in a browser.”

So, Google built Chrome around the browser. That eliminated a lot of what Liu calls “crust that had built up over time” on legacy computers like Windows and Mac machines. “They were designed for use cases (like floppy disk drives) that don’t exist anymore, and enable more holes for viruses to attack,” he says.

The result was Chromebooks, laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and price points, but they all share a few common characteristics. Most noticeably, they start up fast, have built-in virus protection, automatically update their software, and are generally inexpensive.

For these reasons, Chromebooks have becoming increasingly popular with casual Internet users—people who just want to surf the Web—and in the education field, a market that Apple had once dominated. It’s interesting that Chromebooks are taking on Macs, because when the system was revealed, experts had Google gunning for Microsoft and the popular, inexpensive ultrabooks and netbooks of that day. But with Windows 10 shifting Microsoft’s strategy towards hybrid tablet-turned-computers, an opportunity opened up for Google in low-cost laptops.

And manufacturers followed. That’s why—just as you can find many variants of Android phones and tablets—you will also see Chromebooks from many different makers.

Currently, manufacturers such as Acer, ASUS, Dell, LG, Samsung, and Toshiba all make Chromebooks. Haier and Hisense currently make the least expensive models on the market, while HP puts out one of the best models at just under $400. Every Chromebook is a little different, helping to meet the needs of a variety of users. Some, like the Acer Chromebook R11, have plenty of ports, while others, like the Dell Chromebook 13, have excellent (13 hours) battery life.

But one thing that unites the platform is how people use it. First, in an increasingly cloud-based computing world, it makes ever-more sense to use an operating system built around a web browser like Chrome. Of course Google has built its own suite of productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, and Gmail, but if you can’t ween yourself off Microsoft’s programs, Word, Excel, and Outlook offer browser-based solutions too. There’s also a Chrome Web Store for adding apps that were custom-built for the platform.

But even more game-changing is Chrome OS’s ability to port your computer to any Chromebook you might use. Simply type in your Google username and password into a machine, and all your apps, documents, bookmarks, and other work appears on the screen, exactly where you left off on another Chromebook.

Chrome’s capabilities are catching on even outside education. For instance, some companies are integrating these low-cost machines into their workflow. “Every Starbucks you walk into has a Chromebook in it for their employees to use in their daily activities, whether it’s checking their mail or logging [human resources] data, or whatever” says Lui.

However, if there is one knock on Chrome machines, it’s how little onboard storage they tend to have. Because the machines are so reliant on the web, they’re able to cut costs by skipping on big hard drives. Google gets around this by offering 100 gigabytes of storage free (for the first two years, at least). But even these largely Internet-based he machines aren’t lifeless without a connection—apps including Gmail and Google Docs will run offline, syncing up once you’re online again. And that probably won’t take long, considering how connected we are these days, anyway.

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