For a bit over a month, we’ve talked a lot about Chromebook Plus. While I love what Google is doing with this new campaign, it’s not without its difficulties right now. Chief among those problems is branding for devices that are Chromebook Plus certified through-and-through, but don’t have anything consumer-facing to let people know this fact.
An odd branding issue
One of the few Chromebooks on sale right now that we just recently highlighted – the excellent Acer Chromebook Spin 714 – is a prime example of this in motion. While all the new Chromebook Plus models (the ones with Chromebook Plus on the lid) are back to full price for now (I’d wager this will change later in the month), there are still non-branded Chromebook Plus devices available at steep discounts.
The problem? Consumers who are seeing more and more Chromebook Plus marketing may dismiss a device like the Spin 714 simply because Chromebook Plus doesn’t show up in any of the marketing materials or product listings for it. And that’s a real shame because passing on a device as fantastic as the Spin 714 simply because there’s no mention of Chromebook Plus on it means consumers are missing out on great hardware simply due to poor marketing.
Chromebook Plus on the inside
Devices that are certified Chromebook Plus get the same software perks because they meet all the same hardware requirements as their branded siblings. Yet, unless you are a regular reader here at Chrome Unboxed, the chance that you understand that fact is slim at best. And Google really needs to change this. Whether it’s at Best Buy or on Google’s own Chromebook Plus landing page, the devices that were already on the market and meet the hardware criteria for the Chromebook Plus upgrade need front-facing evidence of this fact for consumers not to be mislead.
With these existing devices clearly meeting the spec requirements of Chromebook Plus and many of them delivering on the promise of buying a Chromebook Plus model (buy a Chromebook Plus and you don’t have to worry about a great experience), there’s no reason anyone should miss out on all the options available to them as a consumer when shopping for one of these Chromebooks simply because of a label missing from the lid of the device.
A simple fix is possible
Sure, there’s no reality where all these Chromebooks get new branding on the packaging and the lid of the Chromebooks themselves, but the listings at stores like Best Buy could easily be updated to reflect their new status. If the point of Chromebook Plus is to clear things up a bit for the consumer, I think withholding the Plus branding in-store is a terrible step in the wrong direction.
Consumers shouldn’t be expected to read a niche blog like ours to understand these things. And the truth is, the majority won’t before making a purchase. And if they’ve seen a commercial of some sort for Chromebook Plus and go to the store (or online) and see only 8 devices that are referred to as Chromebook Plus, you can guess which Chromebooks they’ll be choosing from.
And just to be frank, part of this frustration lies in the fact that I’d like to refer to devices like the Acer Spin 714 as the Acer Chromebook Plus Spin 714. I mean, why shouldn’t I? It more than meets the requirements, offers a superior user experience, and is on sale for $500 or so on a regular basis. This Chromebook – and others like it – exemplify Chromebook Plus better than most of the branded devices out there on the market, but without a branding change, consumers may walk right by them in a store or scroll on past them online. And I really hate that thought.
Look, I don’t mean this as a knock on the new Chromebook Plus devices. I like most of them quite a bit, but at the end of the day, I want people to know the actual options they have for great Chromebook experiences, and right now the positioning of Chromebook Plus isn’t delivering the full story to potential buyers even though it easily could. Hopefully, Google changes this in the near term and we can all start referring to Chromebook Plus devices as a single group instead of this strange branded/non-branded nonsense.
UPDATE – 11/10/23: During the recording of our podcast today, a thought occurred to me on this subject that I’d not previously considered. While there are still the 5 overlapping devices on store shelves that existed as standard Chromebooks before their Chromebook Plus-branded counterparts came along (the HP x360 14c, HP 15.6-inch, Lenovo Flex 5i, Lenovo Slim 3i, and ASUS CM34 Flip), we may not see the listing changes I’m hoping for.
Think about it for a second: if we were to see “Plus” added to the applicable Chromebooks right now, you’d have the non-branded HP x360 14c and the Plus version both listed as “Chromebook Plus” and that could further muddy the waters. This would be true of all 5 of the newly-branded devices, so until their non-branded siblings are all sold and off shelves, I’d wager we won’t see the change I’m hoping for, if we end up seeing it happen at all.