Chromebook Costs Dont Add up for IT Managers

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-05-16 Print this article Print


Another problem for IT is that the Chromebook requires some kind of wireless access to function. This means that companies will have to either ensure that there's full WiFi access in every location within the company or the company is going to have to decide that the Chromebook can only be used in some places. Despite the hype that you hear from nearly everywhere, remarkably few companies actually have WiFi or 3G available throughout their buildings. For this to happen, the company may have to make a significant investment in upgrading its wireless network. This adds even more cost to the Chromebook.

The reason for this need for a wireless network is that the Chromebook, while it has a small amount of local storage (about as much as your digital camera), keeps its applications in the cloud. So while you might have data you need on the device, you can't actually look at it without a wireless connection.

Then you come back to the price. Corporate users are going to be paying $28 a month for the device. That adds up to more than $1,000 over the three-year life of a Chromebook, which is in reality a diskless netbook computer. For that, you could buy a very nice notebook computer with a hard disk, Windows 7 and Microsoft Office. Or you could get the Windows computer from HP for $16 a month. Add to that the $50 dollars a year that Google charges for Google Apps and you're up to $20 a month.

So, then, IT managers will have to consider that the Chromebook costs $8 per month per device more than a full Windows 7 notebook computer and that they'll probably need to spend significant capital on network upgrades while also losing control over security and perhaps the stability of your critical applications. Add in any communications charges if you get the 3G version, and you have a question: Why would any IT manager do this? For that matter, why would any CFO allow this to be done?

The only possible reason may be that when one of those silent Google updates comes along and the company's mission-critical software stops working, the IT manager can point to Google off there in the cloud and say it's their fault. My suspicion is that the IT manager who tries this will find the boss is unconvinced. Whoever approved the acquisition of Chromebooks will be scrambling to keep their job. 


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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