Chromebook Lags Behind Windows 8 With Less Than 500,000 Sold

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) is doing everything it can to ensure that the Chromebook becomes a long-term success.

In addition to the cheap plastic machines that retail for $200, Google has built a $1,300 notebook for high-end users who work in the cloud.

These efforts are part of the company's long-term strategy to compete more effectively against Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ).

By getting consumers to switch to a Chromebook -- which comes with the cloud-based Chrome OS -- Google can automatically eliminate the challenge of competing software. This was a strategy that Apple tried to employ until it realized that it was better off embracing Microsoft Office and other mainstream programs.

While Office is not being developed for Chrome OS, Chromebook users can still subscribe to Office 365.

Many of Google's most popular services -- such as Google Docs -- are currently free. Unlike the paid software of yesteryear, Google makes money by selling ad space. Thus, the company wants to acquire as many users as possible, even if it means selling low-margin notebooks.

Unfortunately, that strategy seems to be off to a very slow start. While Chromebooks have been available for more than a year, Google (and its partners) have only managed to sell a small number of units.

According to DigiTimes , total sales are less than 500,000 units.

Taiwan-based notebook ODMs and vendors told the publication that "compatibility and consumer usage habits" are the major obstacles that the OS must break through in order to increase demand.

They estimate that, even if Google integrates Chrome OS with Android , it would still struggle to compete against Windows for at least one to two years.

That could be an understatement. During its first month at retail, Windows 8 sold 40 million licenses -- more than 80 times the number of Chromebooks that have been sold. Not all of those licenses were for new machines.

In fact, one study suggested that consumers are more interested in Windows 8 than they are in buying new hardware.

This is not the best news for Google, which is trying to use the Chrome OS to inspire Chromebook sales, just as Apple used the famous Mac OS to inspire MacBook sales.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

(c) 2013 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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