Online retailer goliath Amazon.com has released a press release summarizing this holiday season’s sales. Among the other items noted is that Chromebooks were once again the best-selling laptop for a second year in a row. A brief search of news articles, Twitter posts, etc. suggests a sizable number of people did get such as Christmas gifts, and sound mostly pleased.
While it’s just Amazon (versus other retailers like Best Buy, etc.), the headlines “Chromebook top holiday sales” can’t sound good for Microsoft, who earlier this year pushed the creation of its own Chromebook-like laptop, the HP Stream. Matching the Chromebook’s specs, the Stream relies on OneDrive for cloud storage. Microsoft also sweetened the deal by offering 1TB of free cloud storage for a year (matched recently by Google for Chromebooks) and free Office 365 Personal access for a year, a $70 value according to the Motley Fool. And, of course, the Stream’s main advantage over Chromebooks, depending on one’s perspective/needs, is that one can run Windows programs.
Apparently for Amazon customers, all of that wasn’t good enough to lure them away from the Google-backed laptops. Most of the reviews for the Stream I’ve seen have been reasonably positive (the dubious purple or blue color choices aside). They’re also the top-selling laptop at Walmart, from a brief check of Walmart’s website, though Chromebooks are at #4 and #6. Still, Amazon’s marketing and retail clout, leading to headlines about “Chromebooks ruling holiday sales on Amazon,” probably isn’t the most encouraging sign for Microsoft.
One issue might be the odd way the Stream’s been marketed on TV. See the sole Stream holiday TV ad below.
While the Surface Pro 3 TV ads have been quite aggressive about who they’re going after—the MacBook—the Stream’s TV ad has pitched it as a device that’s…um, better than paper? While it’s true, that’s also the case of the Chromebook, standard-issue Windows laptops, and, well, any other computer. The ad does list the Stream’s features. Still, a better ad should’ve also compared it directly to the Chromebook, and push hard its main perceived advantage over the Chromebook, being able to run Windows apps. No, Microsoft directly confronting Chromebooks didn’t go well in the past—see the infamous “Scroogled” campaign—but their Surface Pro 3 ads suggest their marketing’s improved since then. It’s odd that they didn’t put the same type of effort into marketing the Stream.
As for Chromebooks’ future, 2015 should see even more models come out, with sales likely to continue to rise. However, there’s also seeing what happens later in the year when Windows 10 (fixing the flaws of the unpopular Windows 8) is finally released.