Google’s Chromebook for Small Business

Google announced it’s Chromebook at the Google IO conference earlier today.

Chromebooks could have a variety of uses – but one of the big beneficiaries could be the small business market.

What Is A Chromebook?

A chromebook is a laptop based on Google’s Chrome operating system. There is also a Chrome access box intended as a desktop replacement.

Acer Chromebook

Chrome OS is intended as a simple, easy to manage operating system – designed for the Internet. Computers running Chrome:

  • Turn on instantly
  • Receive automatic updates from Google
  • Are more secure than traditional computers
  • Facilitate automatic storage of settings and content in the cloud

These are all Google’s claims, but it seems likely that they will prove true when the laptops launch on June 15th. The beta versions appear to have met user’s expectations.

In addition to the above, Chromebooks are intended to have an all-day battery and constant access to the Internet.

The biggest downside to Chrome OS computers is that they are heavily reliant on the web. They cannot run most traditional programs. The software they do run is browser-based, and much of this works only with Internet access. Google is promising to provide offline access for many of its services, such as Google Docs, but these devices will be most useful to those who can constantly be online. On the other hand, Google has partnered with Citrix to make the laptops more compatible with a corporate environment.

The Hardware

At launch, two Chromebooks will be available – an Acer and a Samsung.

Samsung ChromebookThe Samsung has a 12.1″ screen, built-in Wi-Fi, and an option for 3G. It will be priced at $429 and $499 with/without 3G. The 3G version includes 100 MB of data free from Verizon per month for the “life” of the computer.

The Acer has a 11.6″ screen and will start at $349.

Finally, there is the desktop access box. This is branded as a Samsung – Google did not announce pricing, it’s possible this will be only available with their business service.

The hardware is now available for purchase, along with more details, at Amazon.

The Chromebook Business Solution

Update: The Chromebook subscription will be available only to companies acquiring 10 or more systems, making it less useful for many small companies. You can still take advantage of the above features by purchasing one of the systems at retail.

Chromebooks for business will provide companies with a complete computer solution for $28/month.

This service includes:

  • A Chromebook
  • Support
  • Web Console
  • Warranty & Replacements
  • Hardware updates

I haven’t gathered whether this includes the full Google Apps subscription (which is usually $50/year), but I suspect it may. Update – A Google Apps subscription is not included with the Chromebook. You either have to use the free version or pay the $50 fee.

Conclusion

Chromebooks will be an attractive option for some small businesses. Lacking the management tools available to large enterprises, many small companies rely on consumer-grade anti-virus, applications, and backup, which are often hard to manage for more than a couple employees.

Google’s solution ends the need for managing backups, takes care of security, and provides for an easy cloud-based backup. Support is provided, and even the hardware itself will be automatically updated to stay current. For more info, visit Google’s Chromebook for business site or the Amazon sales page.

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