Google today unveiled the first wave of “Chromebooks” — notebook computers running the company’s Chrome OS, to be available starting June 15. The initial machines from Samsung and Acer, will sell for $349-$499, depending on the manufacturer, specs and optional mobile broadband. They’ll also be sold on a subscription basis for schools ($20/user per month) and businesses ($28).

Already there’s plenty of valid skepticism about Google’s prospects for success. But regardless of whether these particular machines set the market on fire, the approach that Google is taking says a lot about its view on the direction of the market. Like the iPad, this is another vote for the value of a device positioned somewhere between the phone and the full-fledged computer.

Google previewed its pitch in the blog post announcing the Chromebooks this morning.

These are not typical notebooks. With a Chromebook you won’t wait minutes for your computer to boot and browser to start. You’ll be reading your email in seconds. Thanks to automatic updates the software on your Chromebook will get faster over time. Your apps, games, photos, music, movies and documents will be accessible wherever you are and you won’t need to worry about losing your computer or forgetting to back up files. Chromebooks will last a day of use on a single charge, so you don’t need to carry a power cord everywhere. And with optional 3G, just like your phone, you’ll have the web when you need it. Chromebooks have many layers of security built in so there is no anti-virus software to buy and maintain. Even more importantly, you won’t spend hours fighting your computer to set it up and keep it up to date.

With sales of traditional PCs recently slumping — and netbooks in particular taking a gigantic hit — the Microsoft Windows team will no doubt be paying close attention to how the Chromebooks are received. Good or bad, there should be lots be lessons for the Redmond company from the launch.

Follow-up: Google’s Brin to Windows users: Stop torturing yourselves

Comments

  • Guest

    Very interesting! We’ve been considering buying a small Windows 7 laptop for $250-400, but with Chromebook coming out, we’re giving it a second look. What do other technologists think about Chromebook versus Winbook? (No Macbook, please. Too expensive.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/jessiethe3rd Jessie Anderson

      Not quite sure you can compare a fully functioning Notebook for $400 to a netbook which is 100% dependent on the internet to function.

      no thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/RedRussak Joshua ‘Red’ Russak

    I find it strange that Google had this huge push for CR-48 and now the landing page has been replaced by: http://www.google.com/chromebook/#

    Here’s more info on the CR-48: http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/07/google-unveils-cr-48-the-first-chrome-os-laptop/.

    …is this what that was?

  • Anonymous

    NO!

  • http://twitter.com/questionsall Carl Setzer

    I like the uber-fast bootup, getting a full-day from a charge, and 3G (will that be the only way to have my “apps, games, photos, music, movies and documents” accessible wherever I am?). It just seems to be a iPad with a different OS & keyboard, though.

  • http://twitter.com/questionsall Carl Setzer

    I like the uber-fast bootup, getting a full-day from a charge, and 3G (will that be the only way to have my “apps, games, photos, music, movies and documents” accessible wherever I am?). It just seems to be a iPad with a different OS & keyboard, though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lawlam Lawrence Lam

      Not a touch screen, so not quite like an iPad.

    • Mike Mathieu

      I find that my iPad2 hasn’t replaced my MacBook (or Win7 PC) usage at all — so realistically you should compare it to a real laptop. Reminds me of Larry Ellison’s NetPC of the 1990s. Might just be “trying” too hard.

  • Google_Apple_Microsoft_Etc

    I would be using this for high school.  I am trying the asus transformer with keyboard dock, but the keyboard is a little cramped.  What would you do?

  • Google_Apple_Microsoft_Etc

    I would be using this for high school.  I am trying the asus transformer with keyboard dock, but the keyboard is a little cramped.  What would you do?

  • Google_Apple_Microsoft_Etc

    I would be using this for high school.  I am trying the asus transformer with keyboard dock, but the keyboard is a little cramped.  What would you do?

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