SAN FRANCISCO–Google took another step forward in delivering on its vision for delivering cloud computers, introducing notebooks based on its Chrome operating system from Samsung and Acer here at Google I/O May 11.
The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook will be available in the United States and in the U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The Series 5 is priced at $429 for the WiFi-only model and $499 for a computer with a 3G radio. Acer’s WiFi-only Chromebook will start at $349 and will be sold in the same markets.
“We’ve chosen to focus initially on notebooks because that is where most of the Web usage is today,” Sundar Pichai said during his keynote here, adding that those who boot up the device will be online within 8 seconds.
Indeed, Chrome OS is a lightweight, Web-based operating system, which includes no BIOS startup process to pare boot time to seconds instead of the minutes Microsoft Windows computers usually require. Chrome OS users may open or download Web applications, such as Gmail, Angry Birds or Google Docs, and begin using them within seconds via the Chrome Browser.
Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Chrome product management, promised last December that Google and its partners would deliver Chrome OS notebooks in the second half of 2011. To whet users’ appetities, Google shipped thousands of Chrome OS-based Cr-48 notebooks for users to test.
Pichai delivered on his promise, noting that the devices lack internal storage, meaning all Web applications accessible on the device reside in Google’s cloud of servers.
Pichai said the Chromebooks will last a day of use on a single charge and will enable users to connect from wherever they are via 3G networks. The machines are rendered secure via Google’s special sandboxing security practice.
Google is also making it easy for businesses and schools to adopt the Chromebooks with a subscription model, which could be a key market driver if the consumer segment fails to embrace the new model and machines.
Chromebooks for Business and Education include Samsung and Acer machines, as well as a cloud management console to provision and then manage user access devices, applications and policies. Google is also offering enterprise support, device warranties and replacements and hardware refreshes.
Google will charge $28 per user, per month for the business edition and $20 per user, per month for the education edition. A three-year subscription is required.
Finally, Pichai said Samsung has also built a Chromebox, a thin desktop that can be used for the business subscription model.