Google plans to launch its Chrome Operating System for netbooks later this year. The OS is built around a web browser, and the idea is that you’ll be able to boot your netbook and get online quickly to read news, watch videos, and interact with web-based applications for editing documents or pictures, or even video chat.

We’ve known that much for months. But speaking at an event recently, Google CEO Eric Schmidt let a few more details drop… or rather, a few hopes. Thing is, while there have been rumors about a “Google Netbook” or a “Google Tablet,” the company hasn’t officially committed to building any hardware. Instead, Google will license the operating system to hardware makers who really get to set the prices.

That said, Schmidt says he expects netbooks running Chrome OS to sell for about $300 to $400, which is about the same price as most netbooks currently on the market. While Google will be offering Chrome OS for free, that actually doesn’t provide that much of a cost saving, since Microsoft licenses Windows 7 Starter Edition for netbooks at a pretty low price. The rest of the cost of a netbook comes from components including the CPU, display, memory, storage, and other components… plus some markup of course. Nobody wants to sell netbooks at cost or at a loss.

So the question is… if a Chrome OS netbook is going to run about the same price as a Windows netbook, is there any reason why you’d prefer a netbook that basically runs a browser-based OS over one that runs a desktop operating system and gives you the option of running the Google Chrome browser on top of it?

via Netbook Choice

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13 replies on “Google: Chrome OS netbooks should cost $300 to $400”

  1. I’ll buy one, simply to encourage the direction google is moving in. I already use gmail for mail + calendar, grooveshark for music, googledocs for spreadsheets and documents, youtube or hulu or netflix for TV and movies, etc. I’d like to be part of encouraging development for cloud computing; from online gaming to photo editing to development environments to everything else.

    Why? Because it’s platform-independent. Because it’s Machine-Independent! available anywhere and everywhere the internet is (and seriously people, how much do you use home or work computers offline?). Imagine the same desktop, the same data, on different machines anywhere, in seconds.

    Because waiting 3 minutes for your netbook to boot, and crappy windows wireless drivers to connect, and various bloatware apps to load in the background, and OHmyGosh Updates Are Ready for Your Computer! etc. is massively irritating. And I have an iTouch, and no way am I buying the iTouch Duplo-size.

    I run Ubuntu at home, and like it. I won’t run Windows again. But I will buy one of these, when it comes out. 🙂

  2. At that price, I’d rather have a Windows Starter netbook. I’m not crazy about the Starter edition but it does run standard Windows apps and has Internet Explorer for the few web sites which don’t work well with other browsers and Windows Messenger which most people I know use. So for me, it’s too much money for what it’s capable of. On the other hand, if a Chrome OS device comes out in an ultra thin form factor with a Cortex CPU and the price is $200 – $300, THEN I’d be more likely to buy one.

    1. I gotta agree here. I don’ tknow how the average person is gonna react to having all og their data in the cloud. This also means always having to be connected to the internet, which means anotehr monthly bill if you want to go mobile.

      I want one, but I’m not convinced a lot of other people will.

  3. If the computer is lightning fast, turns on immediately, has a great screen and great keyboard, has a very long battery life, and weighs very little–in other words, if it outperforms typical netbooks in many other ways, I’m sure that people will consider buying it at the same price.

    That being said, there is a big difference between $400 and $300. There is probably a much better market for a device like this at $300 (or, better yet, $250).

    1. Agreed. There would have to be a significant performance benefit to running Chrome vs. a full desktop OS. There are also some potential security benefits to an OS that doesn’t really run applications, and this also ties back in to the performance equation.

      If Chrome netbooks ship bloatware-free, with the assurance that they’ll be just as fast after months of use as they are on day one, then that’s a benefit. But Google has their work cut out for them marketing this thing.

      The Linux netbooks of yore had all those same benefits, and look what happened to their market share when Windows started showing up on netbooks. The smartbooks and slates coming out are likely to have faster boot times, instant-resume, and even longer battery life. In the end, Chrome’s biggest competitor may be Android.

      Where Chrome could really grow its install base is with enthusiasts who might dual-boot it. If they can provide a staggeringly comprehensive set of drivers for this thing, such that it installs and runs flawlessly on ANY computer out there, then it could be a fantastic second or third OS option. I’d welcome it. But I doubt it’ll happen.

      1. The point of Chrome OS (vs. running Chrome on Win/Mac/Linux) is to turn the web browser into an appliance. What OS does your TV run? Or your DVD player? It doesn’t matter, you just turn it on and use it.

        This obviously won’t appeal to anybody who wants their whole OS. But that’s not who it’s for.

        1. I guess I’m not sure what your argument is. Netbook-as-appliance was already tried with the early Linux models, and Microsoft took over almost the entire market when they made cheap Windows XP licenses available. And as we speak, smartbooks and tablets are already battling for essentially the same target audience, with the added benefits I mentioned above.

          And I don’t agree that it won’t appeal to anyone who wants their whole OS. It certainly appeals to me as a second OS option, if it can make my T91MT boot and perform faster. But as I said before, that’s going to require a lot of participation in driver development from Google.

          1. I have the first-gen Xandros Linux Asus Eee, which I use primarily for the web browser. It’s not nearly as appliance-like as it should be. I’ve tried the Chrome OS builds by Hexxeh, which are much closer to what I had in mind for a web appliance, but clearly a work in progress at this point.

            I think Google’s primary goal (for now) is to have machines designed for, and preloaded with, Chrome OS. Loading onto existing hardware will be a hobbyist thing.

          2. I think you’re right that selling units preloaded with Chrome OS is Google’s goal — I was just questioning that goal’s viability. I think they’d get more market share by supporting the hobbyist community in loading it onto existing netbooks, but I also don’t think it’ll happen.

            We agree more than we disagree. You’re just talking about facts, where I’m talking about theories. =)

          3. Google probably figures the hobbyists will take care of themselves.

            Google isn’t really going for OS market share. Or netbook market share. Or browser market share. They’re going for cloud market share. Anything that makes the OS less important and the cloud more important is a plus for them.

            And if Chromebooks don’t do the trick, maybe Androidpads will. Perhaps the ideal will end up being the full Chrome browser running on Android. Whatever delivers more people to the cloud more often.

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