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Google's 12.1-inch Cr-48 Chrome OS netbook was used by internal, corporate, and public beta testers.   (Source: Linux Devices)
Will be offered to students first, enterprise offering likely to follow

Late last year, Google put out a call to participants to sign up to become beta testers of free notebooks that ran its fledgling Chrome OS (not to be confused with the Chrome browser). With an expected mid-2011 launch, the company said it was working out a few kinks. 

Reports now say Google is preparing to announce a game-changing price point tomorrow regarding its Chrome notebooks.

According to Forbes, Google will announce a $20-a-month package for students that includes both the hardware and internet access, in what "is almost certainly a precursor to an enterprise offering." 

"Small and medium-sized businesses are banging on our doors to get something like this," the unnamed Google executive and source of the story said. 

Google currently offers businesses a Cloud-based suite of software similar to Microsoft Office for $50 a year. Forbes posits that a laptop could be added to the deal rather cheaply, in the same way that a cell phone comes at a discount when tied to a calling plan. 

And students are the best guinea pigs in this case. Twenty dollars a month is less than a data plan from any of the major carriers. Testing the product on students also builds in demand as they graduate and join the workforce. 

Another aspect where the Cloud-based productivity suite appeals to business is control. Employers can better control where its employees can go online and how they use and access internal data. 

The Google executive said the company is very close to solving the problem of working offline, in cases where there is temporarily no web access. That appears to be the Chrome laptops' biggest hurdle.

Updated 5/11/2011

Google just announced that the ChromeBooks will be available to students for $20/month and to businesses at $28/month. The price will include enterprise-level support and "regular hardware refreshes". Google is a little fuzzy on specifics, but it mentions in a separate article that 3G models will come with 100MB of free internet access. 

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RE: Mild offering.
By Brandon Hill on 5/11/2011 8:29:51 AM , Rating: 3
The Google Chrome notebook is $20/month for the hardware AND internet access (WWAN).

RE: Mild offering.
By sigmatau on 5/11/2011 8:52:20 AM , Rating: 3
I am guessing it will be a Celeron quality laptop worth no more than $250 (less to me).

The internet access is the interesting part. Will there be some 250 MB data cap for a plan like that? Whose towers will they be using? Need more details before I can say it is even worth $20 a month. If it does have a low cap then it is worthless to me and all college students.

RE: Mild offering.
By KingofL337 on 5/11/2011 9:03:30 AM , Rating: 3
How is 250mb a month Worthless? You do not represent the norm of the college community that would use this laptop. I would guess you would probably not be happy with the specs anyways. Doesn't play Crysis... This laptop would be used for typing, research, e-mail and maybe a few flash games. It also has WIFI so you don't have to use the data plan all the time.

RE: Mild offering.
By kleinma on 5/11/2011 9:31:11 AM , Rating: 5
Well if there are caps, it sure would suck if you all of a suddent can't use the thing at all because all it runs are cloud based apps. I can just see it now:

"We are sorry, you can't access your term paper that is due tomorrow because you have used up your data for the month. Please insert another 20 dollars into the slot on the side of the netbook"

RE: Mild offering.
By subhajit on 5/12/2011 10:23:39 AM , Rating: 2
How about storing stuff offline if you're running low on data limit. It can still do that you know.

RE: Mild offering.
By Alexvrb on 5/12/2011 11:15:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's a Cloudbook. Don't count on it, especially in future iterations. Plus, what if you needed to FINISH a paper. Regardless, I agree that Wifi should handle the majority of your needs, but the fact remains that you're renting a crappy "laptop" with a boxed CloudBrowserOS.

Bottom line: If MS was doing something like this, people would be criticizing the OS, the Office software, the hardware, the monthly rental plan, the data caps, everything. But if it's Google, it's cool and edgy. Of course if Apple did it, it would be the best thing ever. It can even run Apps! Can your Windows laptop run APPS!???

RE: Mild offering.
By Alexvrb on 5/12/2011 11:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
Also meant to add that if Google was really as open source-friendly as they pretend to be, the OS would be a Google Linux distro, and the Office software would be open source and offline-friendly, for all Linux users to enjoy. They could add access to Google's app store as an easy (and optional) means of getting software, for novices.

They want you in their walled garden just as much as anyone else, but their walls are made of transparent aluminum.

RE: Mild offering.
By invidious on 5/11/2011 10:57:32 AM , Rating: 3
If you are using cloud software then you aren't the norm of college community either. Do you even understand what cloud means?

The limit would have to be on the order of gigabytes, not megabytes.

RE: Mild offering.
By geekman1024 on 5/12/2011 2:02:16 AM , Rating: 3
Do you even understand what cloud means?

ehrm...the white fluffy cotton candy thingie in the sky, when they get too many around it rains?

The limit would have to be on the order of gigabytes, not megabytes.

100GB data cap for $20/month? Sir, you are a dreamer.

RE: Mild offering.
By sigmatau on 5/11/2011 12:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it's not going to play games, but have you used a Celeron based computer vs anything else? It's almost like stepping up from dial-up to DSL. College students still need to use Office and other software never mind the more demanding software of some other majors. Flash games stretch the limit of a Celeron processor now... how will it cope 2 years from now when things are more demanding?

I doubt it will have a 250mb data cap, but if it did it would be unusable to any college student. We need more details about the data connection before anyone can say this thing is a deal.

RE: Mild offering.
By micksh on 5/11/2011 12:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
I consumed more than 250MB/month on my dumbphone. That's without tethering and streaming. Only RSS and browsing mobile sites. So, for cloud based laptop 250MB is worthless. Move 10MB presentation to cloud back and forth few times and start paying extra.

Besides, "Twenty dollars a month is less than a data plan from any of the major carriers" is not exactly true - AT&T unlimited dumbphone data plan is $15.

RE: Mild offering.
By Solandri on 5/11/2011 1:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
I would assume it also has WiFi capability, and would resort to a 3G/4G network only when WiFi was not available. I have an unlimited smartphone data plan with Sprint (4G even), and I'm finding I typically use less than 100 MB/mo just because so many of the places I frequent have WiFi.

Google has lots of smart people. I'm sure they analyzed how much data typical students would move over WiFi and 3G/4G networks before deciding on the $20/mo price.

RE: Mild offering.
By micksh on 5/11/2011 2:08:23 PM , Rating: 3
True, they all have Wi-Fi. There will be Wi-Fi-only models.

I'm just not sure how useful this thing will be without internet connection. Some Google apps will have offline mode, but everytning else - I just don't know.
And for 3G models free data cap is 100MB/month
"3G models include a free 100 MB per month of mobile data from Verizon Wireless"

RE: Mild offering.
By sigmatau on 5/11/2011 7:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
100 MB is beyond worthless. They might as well make it Wi-Fi only. Not sure why they are even bothering with the 3G part of the laptop. I guess they are looking for people to buy a higher plan.

That $20/month will quickly turn into $50+/month for just a couple of gigs of data per month. That will be enough for all college students, but the price will not be more than double the $20/month. Still need more details.

RE: Mild offering.
By kmmatney on 5/11/2011 2:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
I would have to say that 250MB/mo is close to useless. You can easily go over that just with email, let alone trying to watch a few YouTube videos. On a normal day, I can easily get 10 Mb of emails.

RE: Mild offering.
By omnicronx on 5/11/2011 4:17:14 PM , Rating: 2
You do not represent the norm of the college community that would use this laptop.
Clearly you don't either.. When did you go to school, 1987?

College students are some of the heaviest bandwidth users on the planet, so I'm not exactly sure what your point is. These are not simply heavy gamers, these are average people using the internet for much of their entertainment.

Now I would tend to believe that most users will have access to wireless, but you are kidding yourself if you think 250MB would be even close to enough for the average college student if this was their main source of access.

RE: Mild offering.
By phantom505 on 5/11/2011 9:28:19 AM , Rating: 1
Why don't you freak out a little bit more about details you don't/can't know yet?

Oh you did, well done.

RE: Mild offering.
By RamarC on 5/11/2011 11:04:25 AM , Rating: 2
and since it's effectively a lease, the $20/month likely includes some sort of tech support/maintenance that would be additional with a typical laptop purchase.

RE: Mild offering.
By RamarC on 5/11/2011 3:09:34 PM , Rating: 2
according to engadget, the monthly chrome lease includes software and hardware upgrades .

RE: Mild offering.
By icanhascpu on 5/11/2011 1:19:21 PM , Rating: 1
Well thats fantastic considering most college kids already have campus net access.

But thanks all for the -1 even though my post made perfect practical sense.

RE: Mild offering.
By Taft12 on 5/11/2011 5:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
Your post made no practical sense whatsoever and the -1 was deserved. Do college kids have campus net access when they go home for the night?

This is a game-changing offering for many consumers and small businesses.

RE: Mild offering.
By micksh on 5/11/2011 8:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
No. For $20 no any WWAN even for schools. Really need to read the latest update:

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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