Digitimes reports that Lenovo will put their name on a $175 Chromebook with a Rockchip CPU in the early part of 2015. Digitimes don’t have a great track record on rumors so this may never happen but it’s interesting to think about the larger question of cheaper Chromebooks.
Update: Liliputing reported on a Rockchip Chromebook in July It looks like there’s some truth to this $175 Chromebook story! [Thanks Eemeli]
A similar thing has just happened in the Windows tablet world where the entry price has come down from $200 to $129 in the last six months. RAM was reduced, storage was reduced, screen quality was reduced and materials are cheaper. The reason it was done was to appeal to the consumer that might be thinking about a cheap Android tablet. Cheaper Chromebook may also be a move to appeal to the public but it’s more likely that this is a move to push Chromebooks into countries where the initial cost of purchase is a barrier. The huge markets of China, India, the Philippines and Brazil come to mind, as long as the Internet infrastructure is in place.
Chromebooks already start at $199 so slicing $25 from the cost won’t be a huge challenge. Using a Rockhip ARM CPU will be cheaper than an Intel solution and savings can be made by integrating WiFi into the mainboard. A cheaper (1280×800, less backlit) screen might work and there are probably savings that can be made on keyboard and casing materials. It won’t be the most rugged, but it will work.
Low cost Chromebooks will certainly increase sales numbers in some markets but don’t expect them to rock the consumer Chromebook world. For that we need new features, not lower prices. With the Christmas sales season starting soon let’s hope Google has something to announce.
The Digitimes report includes a prediction that Chromebook sales will top 12 million in 2015. That’s one of the highest predictions to date.