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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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By vtohthree on 5/11/2011 10:41:43 AM , Rating: 0
Of course they need to capitalize off of it somehow. Like most google products, it'll be doing some data harvesting and profiling on it's user.

Although, it's not a bad tradeoff, free hardware with paid internet service is the way I see it. I'm willing to bet that this has an ARM based CPU in there.

I also wouldn't mind leaving the costs of depreciating hardware to the company rather than taking it in myself. Every year and half or so I find myself getting a new computer for around $1,000(without the monitor), be it for performance or for efficiency upgrades... I believe performance as far as CPU power goes has hit a prime for most home users, we just need to make things more efficient(pains me that my old desktop is sucking up 100 watts or so on idle when it only has 2GB of ram and is dual core). This is on top of the internet services I pay. I could go on about this but you can get the point, I wouldn't mind buying say... a tablet but I can already see the CPU being obsolete(in a practical sense...not just by the release of newer hardware but by limitations) when 4 core tegras are released this year...after spending $500 on hardware already you may need a new one the next year while paying $30 or a month for internet already...I could ride off of one of these guys for a while and cut off my current service, especially if you can tether off of this connection.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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