Lenovo believes the Chromebook device may have several advantage over Windows-based Tiny devices, particularly in the digital signage and kiosk market.
At their Accelerate 2015 Partner Forum in Las Vegas, Lenovo announced the ThinkCentre Chromebox, the latest addition to the ThinkCentre Tiny business desktop family.
The Tiny has a rock-bottom $199 price compared to the Tiny Windows-based OS systems. The device’s benefits extend beyond price, however, said Rich Henderson, product manager for theThinkCentre Chromebox.
“The value proposition is also built around flexibility that the Tiny’s one litre form factor provides, whether sitting on a desk taking up no space, or mounted, on a wall, or in a monitor solution,” Henderson said. “That flexibility is a key.”
Henderson also said there is a significant community that likes the benefits of using the Chrome OS, and Lenovo really wants to reach out to that group.
“We really are trying to leverage that form factor, and extend Tiny to the Chrome community,” he said.
“It’s so important in the education market,” Henderson noted. “There is a low-cost element to that, but Chromebooks in the schools were really driven by specific requirements for testing environments – testing protocols that required hardware – and the Chromebooks were an easy solution, which is why they originally took off. Chromebooks also helped manage the IT transition, with the Google environment, because the ecosystem has many easy-to-use learning and collaboration apps, like free classroom management programming. Because this has all now been extended into Google for Work, we have seen some small businesses and new businesses experiment with it. This has especially been the case in call centre environments with Web-based devices.”
Henderson also pointed out that while the Windows-based Tiny models had some play in the digital signage and kiosk market, Lenovo expects the ThinkCentre Chromebox will do better here.
“There are some tools in the Chrome OS that let it do more here than the Windows-based solutions,” he said. “This includes a free kiosk solution that allows customization. Google is seeing significant uptick in this space which we haven’t really taken advantage of in the Windows space. As a result, we believe it will be much more attractive.”
Henderson indicated that the ThinkCentre Chromebook should become a part of the arsenal of any partner who sells Chromebooks.
“We believe that any of our partners selling Chrome solutions will certainly offer it alongside them,” he said. “For our other partners, it would be much more of a specialty device.
Henderson also thinks this device will benefit by trends which have been favoring the adoption of Windows-based Tiny devices.
“On the Windows side, they have become the entire desktop category for some companies,” he said. “They have moved their entire desktop line to the Tiny form factor, at the expense of the small form factor devices. Over the last year, our Tiny form factor has started to overtake our small form factor generally. When a customer doesn’t need expandability, Tiny will be what they go for every time.”
The ThinkCentre Chromebox Tiny will be available in June starting at $USD 199.