Chrome Laptops for $28 a month?

google-chrome-toon

Google has been holding it’s I/O conference this week and has been announcing all sorts of wonderful things.  One of the more interesting is a plan to sell it’s Chrome OS based laptops to businesses and educational establishments on a monthly subscription basis.

Four different laptops from Samsung and Acer will be available for between $28-33 for business and $20-23 for education.  This will include the laptop itself, warranty, support and updates for the 3 year term of the contract.  Organisations will have access to a management console in which the devices can be configured and managed.

So do the maths add up?  The devices are available outside of a subscription for between $350 and $499, the subscription will cost the organisation over a $1000 over the 36 month term.

That’s quite a premium, and it’s not really clear how much value the support and management capability will add.   Most, if not all, organisations would spent more than the $500 mark-up supporting a normal computer over three years, so in that sense it makes sense.  However I thought one of the main selling points of Chrome OS, and the Chrome Laptop, was that they weren’t a full OS, so wouldn’t need the sort of support, management and patching that traditional computers all need.  If these devices are meant to deliver on that promise then why wouldn’t a business just finance the capital cost cheaply elsewhere and simply buy the devices outright?  They’d still have the manufactures warranty, and the beauty of Google’s services is that the end-point is disposable as it hosts no data.

I suspect there are details yet to come as I think there has to be more value there that we’re not seeing – or I’ve just missed something! :)  Either way it’s a highly disruptive move and something that could well change the shape of how IT is provided into businesses.

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