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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 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.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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