Google Adds Netbook to IT Toolbox

The Chromebook's use of cloud-based apps and its monthly 'rental' model could attract the attention of corporate IT.

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Google moved to push further into corporate IT shops when it unveiled the Chromebook netbook computer at its Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco earlier this month.

The new Acer- and Samsung-built computers will run the Google Chrome OS operating system, which was built to run Web-based applications. They will join the company's hosted office applications, the Chrome browser and the Android mobile platform as key components of Google's enterprise effort.

The Chromebook will run cloud-based applications and will receive software and security updates automatically. Analysts said they expect it to attract the attention of IT managers because it could help them cut software, services and security costs.

Further, they said, companies might be intrigued by the fact that the Chromebook will be available on a subscription basis -- businesses can "rent" the devices from Google for $28 per user per month, while schools and government agencies will be charged $20 per user per month.

"[Google isn't] going to make a lot of money in the short term on either the OS or the devices, but they're playing a longer-term game here," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.

Samsung's Chrome OS-based netbooks will be priced from $429, and Acer's will start at $349. They will be available on June 15 from Best Buy and Amazon.com.

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