In today's day-two keynote speech at Google I/O, Sundar Pichai announced that "Chromebooks" were coming to market from Samsung and Acer. Chromebooks, aren't laptops or even netbooks; instead, they're better defined as web clients running in a laptop-like form factor. Given that a majority of my time is spent on the web and that a significant portion of my applications are web-based, I can believe that an OS that consists of only a browser can be a success. After all, with an 8-second boot time, an 8-hour battery, and less installed software to grow corrupt as it ages, Chromebooks are going to be very appealing to users who currently use slow, old laptops which take a while to boot.
But here's one extremely interesting aspect of the Chromebook specs as listed on the feature pages for the Samsung and Acer models: there's no specification of hard drive size. It's internal storage isn't even mentioned.
What an incredible development in computing. If you're going to access all of your applications from the web, you may as well keep all of your files there, too. You'd only have to upload them anyway. Plus, it makes the whole "portable computing" concept a lot more practical. On the Chromebook platform, any user can conceivably use any Chromebook to do their work. Just log in (with your Google account, of course), and no matter whose Chromebook you're on, you have access to your accounts, apps, settings, and files. You couldn't do that if the Chromebook had local versions of your files.
So do Chromebooks need a hard drive? I'm sure they need some manner of long-term storage, but they're right that it's becoming pointless to list it as a spec.