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Google announced via Twitter on Thursday that its Chromebook laptops are now available for pre-order from Amazon and Best Buy. The half dozen models that can be ordered are manufactured by Samsung and Acer and are expected to ship on June 15.
The release of these netbooks will be a test to see if U.S. consumers are interested in a new kind of operating system that is focused on web applications. The promotional language on Amazon describes the laptops like this:
“Chromebooks are built and optimized for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.”
Pricing for the models falls in line with many Windows-7-based netbooks. The computers range from $379.99 to $499.99.
Google’s foray into the netbook and laptop space has not been as smooth as its move into smartphones with Android, which has essentially spread like wildfire through the mobile world. The company announced it would create a Linux-based laptop OS back in July 2009, dubbed Chrome OS. But we’re just now seeing the implementation of the OS on these machines, meaning the project is likely less important to the company than pushing forward Android development on phones and tablets.
One interesting thing that Google is doing with the computers is offering a monthly subscription program for businesses and schools. Business users can lease the machine for $28 a month, while students can lease for $20 a month. That price includes support, updates, warranty, and replacements.
I think Google is headed for a disaster with the Chromebook. While it’s an interesting idea to build a laptop experience centered on web apps, it’s not what consumers are accustomed to. Customers want functionality outside of the Web, even if they mostly want to surf the Web. When you use a photo editor, for example, you’ll have to be online to use it. And most customers just won’t get that concept.
Are you interested in picking up a Chromebook? Do you think Google is moving in the right direction with these machines?