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Chromebooks 'have surprised us,' says HP CEO

HP chief Meg Whitman says the the breadth of market acceptance of Chromebooks is encouraging.

HP Chromebook 11.
HP Chromebook 11.

Speaking at a technology conference this week, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman said she is surprised by the appeal of the Chromebook.

"Chromebooks have surprised us in the breadth of their field. It is not just education, it is small business," she said, in response to a question at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco on Monday.

"It's a broader appeal than I originally anticipated or we anticipated that it would be...it does appear there is a real life to Chromebook in the small to medium-sized business and even in [corporate] enterprise," she said.

Also, related to these comments -- and what could be interpreted as not-so-good news for Microsoft -- she reemphasized HP's strategy to expand beyond Windows.

"There are some groups...[who] do not need Windows backward compatibility in their laptop," she said. "So I'm convinced this multi-OS, multi-architecture, multi-form factor strategy is the right one for us and we are going to follow the market...and try to be the leading provider there on the commercial side," she said.

NPD analyst Stephen Baker agrees about the fragmentation of the market.

"The fragmenting of the market into multiple OSes, processor technologies, brands and channels...is ongoing and the success of Chromebooks is precisely because this fragmentation has opened the space for them to find their niche," he said, in response to an e-mail query.

HP currently sells the Chromebook 11 and Chromebook 14, priced at $279 and $299, respectively.

Samsung upped the ante this week in the Chromebook market with an announcement that its Chromebook 2 is coming in April.

Both 11- and 13-inch versions will sport a Samsung Exynos 5 Octa chip and the 13-incher will offer, for the first time, a high-resolution 1,920x1,080 display.

[Transcript via Seeking Alpha ]