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Google’s ChromeBook Shakes Up the Status Quo with Offline Access



Adam already laid out the hardware specs for Google’s ChromeBooks that are going to be available next month. But there’s more than just hardware running a browser going on here. In fact, it looks like Google is actually quite serious about pushing the “all you need is the web” Chrome OS concept. I say that because I was one of those that thought Chrome was probably never going to amount to much.

Well, based on what I’m seeing and hearing today it looks like Google’s Chrome OS and ChromeBook announcements have superseded anything they had to say yesterday about Android. For those who’ve been following the Chrome/Android dual development cycles this is going to really add some fodder for those discussions.

First, Adam posted the prices that ChromeBooks will be available for. But think of those as prices for everybody who isn’t a student or isn’t attached to an enterprise. Google is going to make ChromeBooks for students for $20 per month and $28 per month for enterprise customers. That will include free updates and security.

But the big news is that Google is announcing its “web only” approach has finally recognized that offline access is a key to making that work. GMail, Calendar and Docs will be available to be used offline when this all kicks off this summer. While one of the Chrome OS tent poles is “always connected”, everyone knows that working offline has to happen somewhere and quite frankly, the always on, always connected mantra never measured up to me when it rubbed up against that little bit of common sense.

Google is also saying that the ChromeOS has matured enough to allow it to run Netflix, Hulu, Google’s music player (although early reviews of that aren’t so swift) and games like Angry Birds out of the box. And speaking of hurling feathered creatures at pigs, this Chrome web version of Angry Birds will allow the game to be cached so that you can, wait for it… play it when you’re offline. Again, that’s a game changer in my view. And Google is working with Samsung to bring a ChromeBox to market that will be essentially a desktop replacement.

Google’s “you can do it all on the web” is going to have a different appeal now.

UPDATE: I noticed that after I published this post that a lot of commentary on this is talking about this in the context of Netbooks. You remember Netbooks. They came, they are still around. They’re fading. Google just bought Netbooks a one way ticket to the “Land of Forgotten Gadgets.”



  1. Anonymous

    05/11/2011 at 11:43 pm

    I think this is a fascinating move on google’s part and can’t wait to see how it pans out.

    I think it still has flaws though, and wonder about the audience for it.

    I’ll start by saying that, even though models will be available to the public, I think it was obvious from the talk today that the real market for this is corporate and educational.

    It might make more sense there, where an argument can be made for it being a money saving premise from the get-go.

    Will it offer everything a traditional system will to the users in those environments. No.

    But the real question is perhaps, “will it offer enough?”.

    And the answer their might well be, “yes”.

    It remains to be seen.

    For home users though I think the hardware price is too high for what you get and the use premise is getting better but still has issues.

    It might be the ticket though for users who are completely new to the web or the upkeep of a computer.

    We are still in the generation where those people are out there who have never used a computer, no less the www.

    It’s a lot to deal with to jump into.

    A system like a chromebook is essentially like the old systems 10 or 15 years ago which hooked to a TV and provided e-mail and web functionality.

    Only now web functionality provides a whole lot more than it used to.

    But watching the demo today I could not help but think that this is not how users really do things.

    You don’t plug in your SD card to find 7 pictures (all very, very small in byte size no less) which you want to upload.

    If you are using digital photography in its strength then you are taking 30 pics, not 7.

    And they are large.

    And you don’t want to share them all because a lot of them are garbage.

    But if you are like me then you are also too compulsive to just throw them all out.

    So you discard a few absolutly out-of-focus or whatever.

    Select the best of 3 or 5 to share online – but keep all of them at full res “just in case” you want them later.

    If google wants us to upload all those pics in full size then it needs to seriously revamp picasa to allow users to actually make good convenient use of the cheap data rates it provides.

    Also – what about privacy?

    What about pics I not only don’t want to share – but don’t want others to even know about?

    Let’s not beat around the bush – whether we took them ourselves or came across them online a lot of people in this world have a lot of files that are very personal and we want to in no way put them in the cloud without some serious talk about encryption.

    So – chrome looked exciting today and like they are on the trail – but for general usage by consumers the
    hardware looked overpriced a bit and the usage scenarios a little polly-anna.

    But still – a lot for MS, etc to think about.

    – Mike

  2. tm

    08/08/2011 at 8:18 pm

    I expect Microsoft will make a ‘netbook’ like the ‘chromebook’ (the only diff is no HD on chromebook) with an IE OS and IE only versions of msoft office for less.

  3. tm

    08/08/2011 at 8:18 pm

    I expect Microsoft will make a ‘netbook’ like the ‘chromebook’ (the only diff is no HD on chromebook) with an IE OS and IE only versions of msoft office for less.

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