Will Google’s new $249 ARM-based Chromebook really challenge tablets?

That’s the gist that Slashdot is going with anyway, but I remain unconvinced that a laptop, especially one that isn’t convertible into a touch tablet, is much of competitor of a tablet.

People buy tablets because they want tablets, not because they want laptops. I have a Chromebook, and it’s OK, but it’s no competitor to my iPad (and certainly not competitor to my Macbook Pro). The only conceivable way that a Chromebook could be a competitor for a tablet is in the sense of a relatively cheap, light and portable computing device.

But wasn’t that supposed to be netbooks before this? I don’t see many people arguing for them anymore.

I stand by my previous statements that I believe ChromeOS is still best focused for business users. If your work is all in the cloud, and you don’t need desktop apps, ChromeOS is fast, efficient, reliable and largely secure. If your work has bought into the cloud and Web apps, ChromeOS is a very compelling business OS.

It just doesn’t work well for creative types who need powerful video, photo, audio, graphic, etc. software. Or for business people who need the full power of Excel (although Google Docs spreadsheets are good enough for most users).

I think ChromeOS could also be a good solution for someone who wants a laptop form factor at home and doesn’t need anything other than a Web browser. There are definitely people and uses that make sense for ChromeOS and Chromebooks.

But tablets, particularly the market-leading iPad, are much more than a lightweight and portable way to browse the Web. The iPad has some pretty great games on it. It also makes for a good way to watch movies, either lounging around or on the go. The iPad is also the best reading device I’ve ever owned, and the tablet form factor makes a lot more sense than a clambshell laptop for reading.

Let me put this to you: Would you choose a Chromebook over a tablet?