Will Google Sell Chrome OS Portables for Low, Monthly Subscriptions?

by Sam Dean - Apr. 22, 2011Comments (3)

When Google announced Chrome OS in 2009, it got an overwhelming level of hype, primarily because it presented a new cloud-centric model for working with applications and unusual approaches to operating system security. It has taken much longer than expected for Google to translate the hype into a realistic strategy for proliferating Chrome OS-based netbooks (and it remains a netbook-focused operating system despite the bloom being off the rose of netbooks). Now, however, a trend we predicted might come to fruition looks like it may indeed arrive: subsidized Chrome OS-based netbooks featuring low subscription fees. This idea would work in Google's favor for several reasons.

Late last year, we wrote that there could be a strong likelihood that Google might subsidize Chrome OS-based netbooks, so that they could become available for low subscription fees. The key to the logic behind this is that Chrome OS, like Android, is all about feeding users into Google's lucrative search/ad ecosystem. To understand Google's focus on this, just look at what Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said when initially asked wny Google is doing Chrome OS

 "The rough argument is we do things that are strategic because they get people to ultimately use the Internet in a clever and new way. We know that if they use the Internet more, they search more, watch more on YouTube, and we then know that our advertising [will reach them]. We do not require each and every project to be completely profitable or not profitable — we look at them in a strategic context: are they making the web a better place?"

Make no mistake: Chrome OS is an onboard ramp to Google's search/ad ecosystem. And, as The Register notes, Google may sell Chrome OS netbooks and accompanying software services:

"Google will sell Chrome OS notebooks and accompanying software services for a $10 to $20 monthly subscription fee, according to a report citing a 'reliable source'...Chrome OS is essentially Google's Chrome browser running atop a Linux kernel. The browser is the only local application. All other apps must be run inside the browser. Google has an interest in pushing users towards web-based applications, including its Google Apps suite of office tools..."

 Subscription-based Chrome OS netbooks are, in fact, the most likely strategy that Google will follow with its new operating system. What remains to be seen is how focused the company will stay on netbooks, rather than other mobile devices, because netbooks are hardly the fiery market phenomenon that they were when Chrome OS was announced. Would you pay $10 to $20 a month for a Chrome OS-based portable system? Would you do so if the system came stocked with resources? That kind of offer could make a lot of sense for Google, if large volumes of users get fed into its ad-based ecosystem.



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OStatic "predicted . . . . a strong likelihood that Google might subsidize Chrome OS-based netbooks"? From the linked article: "Its true open source nature means that it could metamorphosize into something nobody ever expected--like a killer cloud-centric tablet OS where Google might, say, subsidize the cost of Chrome OS tablets."

Now to my commentary (I'll try to write less than last time). First, another question. Is the Cr-48 a "netbook"? By definition, do _note_books have screens as small as 12.1"? If they do, then I believe Google is making Chrome OS for notebooks (bigger screen, keyboard, and, allegedly, better hardware). I personally feel like Google is going to some lengths to _avoid_ the perception that it's propagating the classic netbook stereotype (cramped screen/keyboard/barebones hardware).

For me, as a Cr-48 user, my principal gripe has simply been the device's lag. This is basically my only hangup because, as Steve Ballmer would say, I'm "all in" for the cloud. So, if the (rumored) subscription devices' hardware boosts Chrome speeds up to around what I'm used to on my Windows 7 machine, I'll be _very_ tempted by $10-20/month, even excluding data.

Finally, I agree that the subscription model plays right into Google's revenue stream (96% ads), particularly after Google's CFO said Chrome OS means having "locked-in users" (more ad revenue): http://www.thechromesource.com/tag/chrome-locked-in-user/ Some might squirm at this thought, yet how is it any different from, "Here, Facebook, take all my deepest, personal secrets and use them to target me with ads"? I think cloud companies like Google/Facebook will soon start to differentiate themselves based on how comfortable users feel sharing their personal data mine in exchange for the ("free") cloud services. MySpace, anyone?

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What browsers will be supported in chrome OS?

It will support IE and other browser like Avant which are based on IE?

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Chrome IS the OS. Chrome OS will support only Chrome (rather than IE, Firefox, Avant, Opera, Safari, Rockmelt, Flock, Netscape, etc.) because it is the OS.

I hope this helps. Otherwise, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QRO3gKj3qw&rel=0&feature=player_embedded

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