Does the market need a cloudbook?

Matt Lewis/ARCchart
20 Jan 2012

As content and applications shift into the cloud and communications and computing merge into one gadget, an increasingly mobile lifestyle is demanding new and innovative device form factors - the newest of these is the cloudbook. In a recently published report, ARCchart predicts that the cloudbook market will grow to reach 80 million units by 2015.

Pioneered mainly by Google with the Chromebook, the cloudbook is a stripped-down, highly mobile device with a large screen, geared toward doing almost everything in the cloud rather than locally on the device. This fits in with various trends in user behavior and also appeals to enterprises looking for greater control and cost efficiency in the mobile world. However, there are rival form factors emerging, such as tablets and Intel’s ultrabook, so the cloudbook will need to differentiate itself clearly on functionality and price in order to carve out a place in the market.

ARCchart anticipates that sectors such as the enterprise and budget users will drive the cloudbook from a low base in 2011, to an 80 million unit market by 2015. Some of this success will come at the expense of netbooks, which is expected to disappear as a category, but cloudbooks will also steal share from conventional notebooks, even though the latter remains the largest class of portable connected device (excluding phones) in 2015.

The user experience and apps ecosystem are vital to the performance of the cloudbook, with the rise of HTML5 and browser interfaces central to this. Google hopes its early move with the Chromebook will drive its own browser to the top of the market but it knows Windows cannot be forgotten overnight, so virtualisation partners such as Citrix and VMware also emerge as important players.

Turning early interest into commercial success will rely on a list of critical success factors. In particular, a strong user experience, changes in mobile data pricing and security are key factors. The price and BOM of the first Chromebooks is high for the mass-market. Getting the cloudbook’s retail price-point right is also of fundamental importance.

For more information on the report, use this link:

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