Microsoft is done being undercut by Google and its low-priced, cloud-driven Chromebooks. During its Worldwide Partner Conference, Redmond revealed its own inexpensive alternative, the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook. The $169 Windows 10 notebook will hit stores in August.
Acer’s Aspire One Cloudbook will sport an 11.6-inch screen and ship with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10, and another model will be available with a 14-inch display. We know little else about the Cloudbook, but at $169 the price alone is an aggressive statement.
Chromebooks are far from capturing a majority slice of the market, but they’re catching on. A recent forecast by Gartner predicts that the Google OS laptops will see a growth spurt of 27-percent this year, potentially cresting at 7.3 million units sold. Their rising popularity can be attributed to bargain-basement retail prices and the built-in familiarity of Google’s Chrome OS and app suites like Google Docs.
Right now the education sector is the primary demographic for Chromebooks, but companies like Acer and Samsung have started penetrating the mainstream consumer market. Chromebooks are typically in the Top 5 Best-Selling Laptop category at Amazon. In fact right now Acer’s obtusely named CB3-111-C670 is sitting at the #5 position, retailing for $169.
For Microsoft, the Cloudbook initiative seems a fantastic way to steal some of that slice back and even carve out its own niche. We’re picturing a feature set that mirrors Chromebooks, right down to Office access and a healthy amount of free storage on OneDrive. If even remotely successful, I’m sure we’ll see further efforts from companies like HP, Asus, and Dell. As for Acer’s Aspire One Cloudbook, they’ll tell us more as the device gets closer to launch in mid-August.
I have to wonder if — similar to Microsoft’s in-house developed Surface line — we’ll eventually see their own take on the Cloudbook. Either way, we’re looking forward to seeing what kind of hardware Windows 10 inspires.