Google unveils Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks

Posted by Mark Raby

Google's first open-source operating system for a traditional computing device will be debuting next month.

The company's Chrome OS platform will power upcoming notebooks from both Samsung and Acer, with a simultaneous release date for both manufacturers of June 15.

Falling in line with each company's respective target markets, Acer's Chromebook will be the lower-price model, available at a price of $349. Meanwhile, Samsung's Series 5 Chromebook will be priced at $429. Samsung will also offer a 3G-equipped version for $499. Acer does not have any 3G Chromebook plans in the works just yet, though all models have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

The news comes almost perfectly in time with a report from NPD that suggests devices like the iPad and Android tablets have a negligible impact on the traditional PC market. The research firm says notebooks and desktop computers are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Google agreed, pointing out the majority of all online usage right now is still initiated from laptop computers.

At less than $500, all Chromebook models fall in the low end of the notebook market, and slightly above the netbook market, chiseling out a nice little enclave for consumers.

Advantages of the Chrome OS platform include the fact that it has no BIOS startup processes, and can go from full power-off mode to the dekstop in a matter of seconds.

There will be apps and software available to download through a seamless function on the built-in Chrome browser. Online connectivity is the cornerstone of Chrome OS. In fact, instead of saving files to a local hard drive, users will have their own cloud-based storage system, another component that helps dial back the cost of the hardware.

Google also has its eyes on enterprise customers, in a way no traditional computer platform has before.

In an extremely bold move, it will allow corporate or educational customers to place bulk Chromebook orders in which the organization doesn't have to pay anything up front but must sign up for a subscription model that charges $28 per month per user, with a three-year term required. Educational customers can get the same deal for $20 per month.

The price, over time, equals more than $1,000 per user, but in exchange for that premium Google also promises to offer a full range of support and services for enterprise customers.

Organizations like American Airlines, Logitech, and National Geographic have already signed up for the Chromebook program.