Remember the Chromebook? Google’s project to build low-cost laptops with a lean browser-based operating system hasn’t exactly set the mobile world afire, but Google (NSDQ: GOOG) reminded holiday shoppers Monday that its partners are still building Chromebooks and that they’re now a little cheaper than before.
In the journalism world, it’s called burying the lead: Google announced Monday in a blog post primarily designed to highlight a few tweaks to Chrome OS that Samsung and Acer will be selling Chromebooks for $299 starting this week, down from prices of $349 and upwards. Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) had already updated the price of the Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook to $299 on its site, but only if you actually added the device to your shopping cart.
The Chromebook has always seemed like one of those “good ideas that aren’t really practical at the moment,” the kind of idea that Google has traditionally embraced and launched as soon as possible in order to see what happens. But the world has changed quite a bit since Google first unveiled its plans for Chrome OS: the netbook has truly fallen off the radar, Android is now the world’s most prevalent mobile operating system, and the enthusiasm in mobile has shifted toward tablets.
It’s not clear how many Chromebooks have been sold by Google and its partners since their U.S. debut in June, but the fact that no one is willing to talk about it is generally a good sign that sales haven’t been great. There are a lot of good reasons to think about a browser-based computer–such as security, simplicity, and battery life–if you’re buying computers for workers in a company, but it’s pretty clear that the average consumer doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about Chrome OS when considering a mobile computer.