By MICHAEL LIEDTKE
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google will try to win more converts to a computer operating system revolving around its popular Chrome Web browser with a new wave of lightweight laptops built by Samsung Electronics.
Tuesday’s release of the next-generation Chromebooks will give Google and Samsung another opportunity to persuade consumers and businesses to buy an unconventional computer instead of machines running on familiar software by industry pioneers Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc.
Unlike most computers, Google’s Chromebooks don’t have a hard drive. They function like terminals dependent on an Internet connection. The laptops come with 16 gigabytes of flash memory — the kind found in smartphones, tablet computers and some iPods. Two USB ports allow external hard drives and other devices to be plugged into the machines.
Chromebooks haven’t made much of a dent in the market since their debut a year ago. In that time, more people have been embracing Apple’s iPad and other tablet computers — a factor that has contributed to a slowdown in sales of personal computers.
The cool reception to Chromebooks has raised questions about whether Google misjudged the demand for computers designed to quickly connect to its dominant Internet search engine and ever-expanding stable of other online services, ranging from email to a recently introduced file-storage system called Drive.
Google shares added $2.81 Tuesday to close at $594.34.