Yesterday members-only site Gilt offered an invitation only one-day sale on a “limited edition” version of the forthcoming Samsung “Series 5″ Chromebook — and reportedly sold out of it. The notebook will officially go on sale on June 15th.
The model being sold by Gilt was the $499 3G version. The WiFi-only version is $429.
It’s not clear how many Chromebooks were sold yesterday. However the novel introduction of the device on Gilt served to both create an aura of exclusivity around Chromebooks — Gilt discounts and sells designer products — and generate considerable buzz and coverage.
Many in the tech press, including me, found it unexpected and intriguing. It was smart, even inspired, marketing.
It’s not clear whether the sellout indicates that there will be strong mainstream demand for the computer or whether the Gilt buyers were a small bunch of early adopters and gadget enthusiasts who (as the headline below says) simply wanted to be first on the block with one of these devices.
The early “hands-on” reviews of the Samsung device — Acer is another launch OEM — have been very positive. It’s not certain, however, whether consumers will want to spend $500 on a computer that doesn’t run conventional desktop software. Yet, perhaps ironically, mobile and tablets in particular may have paved the way for Chromebook, with its accompanying apps.
I’ve written in the past about how I believe that Chromebooks have great potential in the enterprise market, while consumer demand is less clear. But if the Gilt success yesterday is any indication Chromebooks may see strong sales when they show up on June 15.