May 11, 2011, 4:41 PM — The spotlight on Day Two of the Google I/O developer event here in San Francisco was firmly on the company's Chrome OS. After six months in which only a prototype was available, laptops running Google's Chrome operating system will finally come to market for consumers, businesses and education.
Two Chrome laptops, one made by Asus and one by Samsung, will be sold by Best Buy and Amazon in the US starting June 15. And Google announced inexpensive lease deals that will give businesses laptops and other infrastructure, support and end-of-life hardware replacements for just $28 per user per month.
The keynote was every bit as news-heavy and action-packed as the first day keynote: Google also unveiled some Chrome OS upgrades that give users more control over locally stored files, along with announcing several key HTML5-related updates to its Chrome browser. But the announcement that got some of the biggest cheers was this one: Angry Birds will become available as a desktop app in the Chrome Web Store!
The huge hall here at the Moscone Center was nearly full, with around 4,000 developers, media people and others.
Chrome Laptops for Consumers
The Samsung Chrome OS laptop will have a 12.1 inch display, "all-day" battery usage, Wi-Fi and an option for Verizon 3G service. The Wi-Fi only version will cost $429, while the 3G version will go for $499. The Acer Chrome Book will have an 11.6-inch screen and Wi-Fi, and will sell for "$349 and up."
Google's slogan for the Chrome Books is "Chrome Book: Nothing but the web." The argument behind it is this: The Chrome Book is almost completely an internet device. If you can do your work and access your content on the web, you don't need the virus updates, slow local services, and endless startup process that can plague a conventional PC.
But Google clearly knows that asking users to give up the security of a local hard drive and conventional desktop software is a hard sell. So it tried to make businesses a particularly compelling offer.
Google wants businesses to use the new Chrome Books to quickly and inexpensively update their laptops to run a modern OS. Google says half of all company-owned PCs in America still run Windows XP.
To make the Chrome Books fit in better in the office, Google is working on a "Chrome Box", a flat square box that connects Chrome Books to large monitors and company file systems.
And here's the kicker: Google says it is offering businesses the Chrome Books, the Chrome Box, full support, full warrantee service and automatic end-of-life equipment replacement at a price of $28 per month per user. (I think I heard a couple gasps around me when this was announced.)