Chromebooks to return to Kiwi shelves

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 17:13 16/07/2014

CHROMEBOOK: Google's low cost laptops.

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Google's answer to Microsoft Windows computers, Chromebooks, should be back on the shelves of New Zealand consumer electronics stores within weeks.

Some stores began retailing Chromebooks this year, but they now appear to have disappeared from sale.

At Christchurch's Northwood shopping centre, Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, Noel Leeming, Warehouse Stationery and Smith City each had dozens of Microsoft Windows computers on sale last weekend but no Chromebooks.

Overseas, Chromebooks have been gaining market share despite their more limited capabilities, because of their low cost and ease of use and maintenance.

Market researcher NPD said on Monday that Chromebooks now accounted for more than 40 per cent of all notebook computers sold through resellers to businesses and schools in the United States, and about 5 per cent of sales to consumers.

In an effort to stem the tide, Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner announced during a conference in the United States this week that the price of notebook computers running Windows 8.1 would drop as low as US$199 (NZ$229) this year.

Noel Leeming merchandise manager Jason Bell said the reason Chromebooks had appeared to have come and gone in New Zealand was because Google had not been offering support to retail customers here. Previous sales to consumers had hence been "unauthorised".

Some chains, which did not include Noel Leeming, had chosen to stock Chromebooks instore anyway, before pulling back.

Google's policy changed on June 3 and Bell expected Noel Leeming would stock Chromebooks from Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Toshiba instore within the next four weeks.

"Authorisation certainly helps in making sure you get the right support from Google and the PC manufacturers themselves," he said.

Noel Leeming had been supplying Chromebooks to businesses and customers in the education sector, he said.

It also now has several models for general sale online priced from $469.

Bell expected interest would remain strongest from the education sector.

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- The Dominion Post

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