Google has followed up its Android and cloud-based music announcements by unveiling Chromebooks at its I/O developer event in California. It has announced notebook devices from its first partners, Samsung and Acer, both built around Google’s Chrome web browser.
Linus Upson, VP of Engineering at Google and Sundar Pichai, SVP of Chrome, have posted a blog about the new initiative:
“These are not typical notebooks. With a Chromebook you won’t wait minutes for your computer to boot and browser to start. You’ll be reading your email in seconds. Thanks to automatic updates the software on your Chromebook will get faster over time. Your apps, games, photos, music, movies and documents will be accessible wherever you are and you won't need to worry about losing your computer or forgetting to back up files. Chromebooks will last a day of use on a single charge, so you don’t need to carry a power cord everywhere.
And with optional 3G, just like your phone, you’ll have the web when you need it.”
Google says that the first Chromebooks will be available online on June 15 in the US, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. More countries will follow later. Standalone pricing will be between $399 and $499 depending on model and wireless configuration. However, Google will also be offering these notebooks on a monthly subscription-based package – together with support – for schools and businesses:
“We’re also announcing Chromebooks for Business and Education. This service from Google includes Chromebooks and a cloud management console to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications and policies. Also included is enterprise-level support, device warranties and replacements as well as regular hardware refreshes. Monthly subscriptions will start at $28/user for businesses and $20/user for schools.”
Businesses can already subscribe to the Google Apps package for $50 a year. With this new announcement it is becoming clear that Google is targeting the corporate market that, until now, has been locked up by Microsoft. According to research from Gartner, the cost of managing a Windows-powered PC in a corporation is between $3,000 and $5,000 a year. Chromebooks, with its free hardware upgrades, seeks to dramatically lower this price point.
The inclusion of the education sector in the deal is very similar – Google and Microsoft are going head-to-head in the education sector at the moment with software services, Chromebooks could provide the winning edge.
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