Google I/O Day 2. It's all about the Chrome [video]

Yesterday was Day 2 of Google I/O, and it came complete with another keynote. This time out the focus was HTML5, Chrome and Chrome OS, and once again anyone could tune in and watch it live. I honestly found the whole thing rather inspiring (but then, web development is my day job). Once again, I'll embed the recorded video below; if you missed it live, may I suggest watching it over lunch today. It's well worth the time if you've an interest in the web in general because as Google's Vic Gundotra says early in the presentation, the web is a platform controlled by none of us.

So here's the keynote:

Lot's of fun stuff and I'm always delighted to find web applications like Tinkercad and I'm looking forward to Rome (aka Three Dreams of Black) coming online (I've heard it might go live today). And of course as a gamer I had to snag the Chrome Store version of Angry Birds the moment it launched. Oh, and a new Chrome Store payment system where Google collects just 5% of the purchase price of whatever service or content you're looking to sell. The other 95% goes to you, the seller. Nice.

A big chunk of the keynote was devoted to Chrome OS. Now I was lucky enough to get a Google CR-48 netbook (I guess now we call it a Chromebook) as part of the pilot program. I tried my best to use it as my 'main satellite' PC for a few weeks. (I generally used two laptops; one with all my work files and one with my personal data like email and music.) At the time, Chrome OS just didn't cut it and I was excited to see some of my concerns have been addressed. There's now (or at least, soon will be) a media player and a file browser, for instance.

The first commercially available Chromebooks will arrive in June. There are two models, one from Samsung and one from Acer. Unlike the CR-48, these new Chromebooks have dual-core (Atom) processors but otherwise the specs seem fairly similar to Google's hardware. The one huge drawback, to me, is the price. The 3G Samsung model is $500. You can get a fairly decent 15" Windows 7 laptop for $500, and then run the Chrome browser fullscreen to emulate Chrome OS! I think these things need to be cheaper; closer to $300 sounds right to me. But if Chrome OS catches on I suppose prices will drop.

The other option Google pitched was a subscription model. Businesses can get a Chromebook for as little as $28/month, and that includes support. There're some catches: you have to buy at least 10 subscriptions and there's a minimum 3-year contract (with no way to terminate early other than paying off the remainder of your contract). There's a similar plan for education that brings the price down to $20/month. Engadget has a nice overview of these new "hardware via subscription" schemes.

Aside from the shock of the first Chromebook price tags, it was a great keynote and most of it felt a lot more 'near future'' than Tuesday's Android keynote with its emphasis on Things To Come. All in all a lot of great info came out of Google I/O this year and a lot of the sessions are available to anyone on the GoogleDevelopers YouTube page. Google really knows how to put on a show for both developers and people who just get jazzed about gadgets and the web. I can't wait until next year!

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