Determining today’s most popular premium Chromebook would be easy if sales data were available, but we often have to use intent instead. In the first quarter of the 2017 we witnessed the introduction of several great premium Chromebooks; namely, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA and the Samsung Chromebook Plus. I could have consulted tea leaves, but decided to judge premium Chromebook interest over the past 90 days by using Google Trend analysis instead. To add additional context, I broadened the scope with the addition of the Acer Chromebook R13, DELL Chromebook 13, and the HP Chromebook 13 which were released late in 2016 to favorable reviews.
For those who are unfamiliar with Google Trends, the following is an excerpt from Wikipedia.
Google Trends is a public web facility of Google Inc., based on Google Search, that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.
To assist in evaluating the trend data, I assembled a brief comparison of Acer, ASUS, and Samsung Chromebook features as they share the same 2-in-1 design.
|Screen||1920×1080 (FHD)||1920×1080 (FHD)||2400×1600|
|Processor||M8173C||Intel M3-6Y30||Opt 1|
|Weight||3.28 lbs||2.65 lbs||2.38 lbs|
My reaction to the above table is Acer and ASUS share many of the same features with the most notable difference being the processor. Acer uses a MediaTek ARM processor and ASUS an Intel M3. This translates into a price difference of $80 and a Google Octane score of 9000 versus 22,000. Samsung elected, with the encouragement of Google, to emulate the features of the Chromebook Pixel with the most notable differences being the processor, the addition of a stylus, and the 2-in-1 design. To keep the price down Samsung went with an ARM processor versus the Intel processor of the Pixel. The consequence of this decision is a 9700 Octane score and lower cost.
To understand the trend graph you must first realize it is comparative. That is to say, the scale is set by the item with the largest volume of hits within the specified period and this peak is marked as 100%. In the first graph, the peak (e.g. 100%) was set by Samsung on February 13th which is coincidentally the day after the ship date of the Plus. All other trend lines are relative to this peak.
For those who are interested in the Samsung Chromebook Pro, the second graph compares search interest between the two in the same time period. There are a couple of times interest in the Pro exceeded the Plus. My assumption is folks were contemplating a purchasing decision or attempting to determine the ship date of the Pro.
Although the ASUS C302CA was announced during CES 2017 in January, it didn’t set much of a trend. In the January time frame it was competing with reviews of the HP Chromebook 13, DELL Chromebook 13, and Acer R13. Samsung stole some interest by getting in the game early via leaks. With few exceptions, the trend lines leading up to February 12th criss-cross in a random pattern with no clear winner.
Breaking from the Crowd
The Plus started shipping online and was available in stores February 12th. As evidenced by the trend spike, folks were really interested in both versions of this product. I don’t know if this inhibited the Plus trend, but reviewers seemed to focus on and endorse the more powerful Pro. In the final analysis, massaging all of the interactions which result in a positive trend may be more art than science but I am sure it did not hurt Samsung to have Google as a partner. ASUS, HP, and DELL should take this as a lesson learned. At the very least you want your product featured in the Google store.
The other item which worked in Samsung’s favor is the differences of their product. The high quality screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and the addition of a stylus caught the attention of many. And last but not least; the ability to purchase a Chromebook Pixel like device at half the cost didn’t hurt. As anticipated, the graph shows the Samsung trend came down after the ship date but never really entered the fray of the others. It is interesting to note even with a traditional design, the DELL Chromebook 13 saw a relatively strong trend line which in my mind says it was on the short list for many potential buyers.
I haven’t personally used the Acer or the ASUS Chromebook, but my assumption is they are much better devices than their trends would suggest. In the case of C302CA specifically, ASUS was not able to generate the kind of excitement needed at product launch to push their trend line up.
On the all important topic of sales, trying to connect trend data to sales data is a bit of a slippery slope as it is not always a one-to-one relationship. For example, some folks searching will not buy at all or they may buy in bulk. Read into it what you will, but from a pricing perspective we are seeing discounts of the Plus and the R13 with the C302CA remaining firm.
- Acer R13 $409
- Samsung Plus $419
- ASUS C302CA (M3) $499
- DELL Chromebook 13 (M3) $556
- HP Chromebook 13 (M3) $586