I’ll admit it, I’ve always like the idea of Chromebooks. Way back in 2011, when I was a CounterPath user, but not yet a CounterPathian, I was looking for a lightweight, simple business laptop for traveling. The Chromebook seemed to fit the bill. It was cheap, it ran web apps, gave me access to email and presentations, and had a decent-sized screen. But for my business needs, ChromeOS had a serious flaw; there wasn’t a proper SIP client available.
Not having access to the corporate PBX was a showstopper for me. So, that Chromebook eventually ended up being given to my kids for their school work, and I moved on to a tablet. For a long time, education is where Chromebooks have found a very comfortable home. According to some reports, Chromebooks have a 60 percent market share in schools. Many people tell me that they first heard of Chromebooks when their kids used them at school.
Google continued to improve both the hardware and ChromeOS, and those efforts have made the Chromebook useful for business. As a result, a new market for Chromebooks is rapidly evolving. The Chromebook is starting to find a place in enterprises of all sizes, especially in the Contact Center. We’ve seen a number of companies, ranging from five-person organizations to Fortune 50 companies, replacing PC’s or tablets with Chromebooks. The economics make a lot sense, since the capital expenditure and the operational costs are significantly lower for Chromebooks. However, having the Chromebook serve as a quality endpoint for phone calls remained a challenge, despite the promises of WebRTC and other web-based solutions. We’ve had a number of these companies reach out to CounterPath looking for a way to make high quality calls when using Chromebooks.
CounterPath Support for Chromebook
Last year Google started to make Android apps available on Chromebook, which was great news for all of us at CounterPath. Over the past year, we have been working hard towards officially supporting Bria on a Chromebook.
It’s been a serious challenge to make Bria for Android work well on ChromeOS. We’ve tested all of the major Chromebook brands, and made over 40 significant updates to Bria to make the experience worthy of the Bria name.
For example, under the covers, Chromebook allows Android apps to run using an emulator, which presented a number of technical challenges we had to address. Transparent to the user and admin, we had to manage all of the various network states to make sure every call is properly handled.
And just like the Android ecosystem, the Chromebook hardware market is fragmented. For CounterPath, fragmentation is something we are used to, with support for over 10,000 supported Android devices! Even so, it’s taken many months of testing various Chromebook models from Asus, Acer, Samsung, Google and others to ensure the best Bria experience possible on each device.
How We're Making Your Chromebook Deployment Successful
We have been working with organizations planning to deploy Chromebooks. What is both interesting and gratifying to hear is that the concerns and challenges of Chromebook users are the same ones our customers have on Desktops and Mobiles.
- How can I provision the devices?
- How do I use my corporate systems like Active Directory to manage users?
- How can I add UC features like Messaging, Presence or File Transfer?
- Is this softphone certified with all of my PBXs?
- What if I have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of Chromebooks in my organization’s future?
- How can we support all the UC needs of all or our users, Windows, Mac, Mobile and now Chromebooks?
- How can I get usage reports and call quality info from the devices?
And the solution to all of these concerns is our Stretto Platform. Bria on Chromebooks is fully supported by Stretto, whether you install it on your premise, or use one of our hosted services like Bria-X or Bria Stretto.
Chromebook Support for Everyone
Of course support for Chromebook is now available for our branded and mobile SDK customers!
If you need a softphone for Chromebook in your organization, reach out to us.
In case you’re wondering which Chromebooks you can use, the basic requirements are: ChromeOS 53 or higher, and that the model is supported by Google Play Service. Google has published a list of models and their current abilities here.