Starting on June 15th, Google will begin offering subscription-based packages for students and for businesses. For a monthly fee you’ll get a Chromebook laptop running Google Chrome OS, as well as ongoing software support, a warranty, and even replacements for obsolete hardware.
The business package will run $28 per month per user, while the education package will be available at a lower $20 per month fee — as we learned this morning.
Update: Engadget reports that the subscription price will be higher for 3G capable models, and that customers will have to sign up for a 3-year contract and business customers will need to rent at least 10 units to qualify.
One of the biggest questions I had when news about the subscription service leaked was whether it made sense to pay to essentially rent a laptop for several years instead of purchasing one outright. But the hardware replacement component of Google’s plan makes the idea look a whole lot more appealing — you know, assuming you actually think the only program you need to run on your computer is a web browser.
Google is making a more and more compelling case for the browser as a central focus for computing though, with the expansion of the Chrome Web Store, support for in-app payments, improved performance, and the addition of offline access for a number of key applications including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Offline capabilities will be available for those three apps this summer.
Customers will be able to purchase Chromebooks for business and education directly from Google in the US, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy starting on June 15th.