To an extent, I need to admit that I was wrong. A bit. Well, maybe under-informed is a better term for it. Regardless, I’ve made some pretty sharp statements in the past week or so regarding Chromebook Plus and the naming issue we currently find ourselves in, and in one aspect of that rant, I was wrong. Let me explain.
A quick Chromebook Plus naming recap
If you didn’t catch my post or listen to the podcast from last week, you might be wondering what I’m even talking about. Let me quickly get those of you up who aren’t quite tracking with me caught up. Chromebook Plus launched in early October with 8 “new” devices with the words “Chromebook Plus” on the lid. Some of those devices were brand new, and some were basically re-brands of Chromebooks that were already on shelves.
While this is a tad confusing for consumers, there is the other issue of Chromebook Plus-eligible devices that we have to contend with. Chromebooks like the HP Dragonfly Pro, for instance, are clearly good enough to make the Chromebook Plus cut. And though they won’t be putting “Chromebook Plus” on the lids of those devices anytime soon, it doesn’t change the fact that after the ChromeOS 118 update last month, devices like the Dragonfly Pro are 100% Chromebook Plus now.
My naming conundrum rant
So, my rant came down to scolding Google for not making it clear to consumers that Chromebook Plus devices aren’t just the 8 devices that were announced at launch. If a general consumer who knows little to nothing about Chromebooks and ChromeOS walks into a Best Buy store having only heard about Chromebook Plus via Google’s increasing marketing campaign, I argued they could easily walk right by a fantastic, on-sale device like the Acer Chromebook 516 GE on their way to a clearly-labeled Chromebook Plus. And that would be tragic!
So many of the devices that have received the Chromebook Plus upgrade are on sale regularly and are amazing devices. In some cases, they are better overall Chromebooks than the new, flashy Chromebook Plus models getting all the attention right now. And if you don’t know this before walking in the door, you could miss out on great savings on devices you’d be thrilled with simply because Google isn’t making a big deal about all the existing Chromebooks that are now Chromebook Plus.
Where I was wrong
Shortly after that post and the podcast, one of our Patrons in our private Discord server pointed out the fact that Best Buy is actually labeling devices that meet the Chromebook Plus specifications as such with a small insert that sits next to the device’s price/spec sheet. Check out the images from a Best Buy for the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 below:
And, no, this wasn’t in response to my ranting, so I must admit that on some level, I was wrong. Labeling is starting to get out there and as a consumer shopping for a Chromebook Plus model, these labels would help to slightly urge me towards a great device if I was in the store.
More needs to be done
So there; I admitted I was wrong. But that doesn’t mean this discussion is over. Instead, I think this all begs the question as to why Google isn’t including something like this on the digital side of these listings as well. We all know the majority of purchases are happening online, and when you go to the Best Buy website (or Target, or Walmart, etc.), there is no indication that there are more than 8 Chromebook Plus models available.
Best Buy’s own landing page for Chromebook Plus is even misleading in this way as it only highlights the new, branded Chromebook Plus devices. And Google’s own landing page for Chromebook Plus is the exact same, showcasing the new hardware and leaving the existing, excellent Chromebook Plus models in the dust.
And this needs to change swiftly. With more and more marketing going out in front of people for Chromebook Plus, we’re going to see more folks than ever showing up in-store and online simply looking for Chromebook Plus models. If the advertising works as expected, that’s what should happen, right? And when they arrive and start to shop, what will they find? For now, just a fraction of the entire Chromebook Plus pie.
But the signage at Best Buy stores is encouraging and a sign that Google and retailers understand the need to hand-hold consumers a bit during this transition. For those not around this sort of stuff on a daily basis, it can get confusing very fast, and that is the opposite intended effect of Chromebook Plus if I understand it properly. Here’s hoping the labels in Best Buy stores are simply a start to far wider Chromebook Plus branding and labeling moving forward for all Chromebooks that apply: branded or not.