Google To Lease Chrome Laptops To Students for $20 Per Month

Google will reportedly announce plans today to lease laptops sporting its Chrome OS to college students for just $20 a month.

  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google
  • Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: GoogleSamsung Series 5 ChromeBook. Photo: Google

The spotlight on Day Two of the Google I/O developer event 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.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are banging on our doors to get something like this,” the executive said, suggesting that the “student package” initiative could be a way for Google to test the waters before releasing a comparable offering for the enterprise.

Google already offers businesses access to its online suite of productivity apps, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet application and calendar, for $50 per year. Perhaps the tech giant will bundle the hardware and software offerings for enterprise users in the near future.

Although so far the Chrome OS had been described as built for netbooks, Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president for Chrome, stayed away from that term, referring to the machines as “notebooks” and “Chromebooks.”

Samsung’s notebook has a 12.1-inch display and in the U.S. will cost US$429 for a model that only offers a Wi-Fi option for connectivity and $499 for one that also offers 3G connectivity from Verizon. The Acer machine will also offer Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity options from Verizon and will start at $349.

U.S. users will be able to place orders for the notebooks starting on June 15 from both Amazon and Best Buy. The computers will also be available in the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, Pichai said during a keynote speech at Google’s I/O conference on Wednesday.

Google will also make available “Chromebooks” on a subscription basis for businesses, schools and government agencies, starting at $28 per business user and $20 per school and public sector user. “It’s software and hardware as a service,” Pichai said.

Those subscription notebooks will be sold directly by Google, and will also be available on June 15, he said.

Google also launched an in-application payment system for Web applications sold through its Chrome Web Store, and said it will only take a 5 percent commission from those transactions.

“We believe that’s a great thing for developers and a great thing for the Web,” said Vikas Gupta, a product manager on the Google Payments Team.

Pichai also said that there are now about 160 million active users of the Chrome browser, more than double the number a year ago. [via Forbes, Engadget and PC World]

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