After showcasing its light-weight, browser-based Chrome OS on CR-48 last year, Google unveiled two Chromebooks from Samsung and Acer at its developers' conference Google I/O.
Chromebooks will be available online in U.S. from June 15 at Amazon and Best Buy.
The Linux-based Google Chrome is a light-weight OS that allows users to access apps directly through the browser, thus eliminating the need to store apps on the system. The Chrome OS-based notebooks also boots faster as most of the software is run on the cloud. Also the Chrome-OS notebook is designed to be consistently connected to the web. The Linux-based Chromebooks can run a day on a single charge. The notebook also eliminates the need to load an anti-virus as Google claims that multiple layers of security have been built into the system.
eWeek reported that the Samsung 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 is priced at $349.
Google also announced Chromebooks for Business and Education which comes with a cloud management console. Monthly subscriptions start from $28 per user for businesses and $20 per user for schools.
Google claims that over 160 million active users currently use Chrome. The numbers give Google an existing set of users to tap into.
The addition of Chrome OS as a platform for multiple devices has raised questions about Google's strategy to have an OS competing Android. Google will be supporting two operating systems which could be cumbersome as it adds extra burden on Google to create an ecosystem around Chrome.
One of the reasons cited for Google's attempt to deliver a Chrome OS-based tablet is to make web-apps ubiquitous. Google is attempting to replicate the app revolution, which has come to Apple's iOS and Google's Android platform, in the web-sphere.
Apps supported by Android and iOS device run natively while Chrome runs are accessed through the browser. This will allow Google to offer a cheaper tablet as most of the resources required to run apps will be sourced over the cloud, thus, eliminating the need for storage and heavy computing.
Primarily apps created for Android and Apple devices are sold or downloaded from Apps Store and Android Market. Here, Chrome will allow users to directly access apps from the browser thus eliminating the need to store apps on the device.
Chrome OS on tablets is also Google's attempt to safeguard its core business model, which is search-based whose growth is directly proportional to the volume of web usage. Thus, any approach that keeps users from accessing the web affects Google's proposition. Current models of specific apps designed for specific OS keep users tied to the OS and device, fenced from the web like Apple iPhone.
Google Chrome is essentially an attempt to break these silos by enticing users to move to the cloud. As users move much of their data to the cloud through Chrome OS, users will be able to access data from any device, thus reducing dependence on a specific device or OS.
Also viable web-apps which can challenge Microsoft's hold have not been created. Like Microsoft Office apps still do not have a worthy competitor on the web. Thus, Google is trying to break this hold by garnering mindshare to create quality web-apps.
CNET stated in April that Chrome source code reveals that Google has added elements to the code which allows web servers to locate the Chrome OS tablet and accordingly deliver a web page designed for touch interface. Other additions include a virtual keypad, and gestures to make the browser touch-oriented.
While the wisdom of launching another OS while its erstwhile Android platform is making headways continues to be questioned, one can take solace in the fact that Google likes to innovate and then search for a business model.
Here is a video of the launch of Chromebooks at Google I/O: