Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) said Google Cloud Print has connected more than 6 million printers via the Google Chrome Web browser, the first time the search engine giant-turned business computing provider has released statistics for its Web-based printing service.
More importantly, the new Chrome 16 build lets anyone using the browser on Windows, Mac and Linux computers print any Web page to Google Cloud Print. Previously, this capability was only available via Chromebooks.
Google introduced Google Cloud Print in April 2010 to let any application print to any printer from any computing device using Google’s cloud computing infrastructure.
The Web service was designed to enable printing for notebook computers based on its Chrome Operating System, a Web-based operating system that eschews drivers. Google, which is positioning Chrome OS as a way to extend its cloud and mobile computing efforts, said it did not want to build a bunch of printer drivers for every computing device and operating system.
Thus came Cloud Print, which the company formally rolled out this year and gained support from printer power Hewlett-Packard in April 2011.
Chrome OS-based Chromebooks rolled out from Samsung, and Acer rolled out its version this past summer, but adoption of the machines has been tepid at best. Both companies are now selling the machines for $300.
Despite the lukewarm reception to Chromebooks, Google Cloud Print Product Manager Akshay Kannan said in a blog post that Google has seen “a surge of enthusiasm from users and developers.”
In addition to the 6 million Cloud Print-connected printers, he said dozens of cloud-ready printers have been released or announced by Epson, HP and Kodak. Also, developers have built applications and extensions to port the service to run on mobile devices based on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google’s own Android platform.
Kannan also noted that Google now enables Cloud Print users to share their printers with friends and family, while users can now save their online receipts and confirmation pages to the Google Docs collaboration application.
Webmasters can add the print button element to their Website to enable printing functionality for tablets and mobile phones, and Google turned on print preview for Chromebooks.
Google plans to enable Cloud Print from more Google applications and work with partners to add more printers and printing services.