Cloudbusters, Rain Makers

All about Google Chromebook: Nothing But The Web

Google just made a big splash by announcing the culmination of two years of work in the launch of its highly anticipated Chromebook Chrome OS notebook.  Touted as a “nothing but the web” cloudy PC experience, and with its sights set squarely on the Microsoft Windows and Office monopoly, it’s set to be released June 15th.  Samsung is offering a 12.1 inch screen and Acer an 11.6-inch screen.  Price points will start around $350, plus Google’s offering a “Laptop-as-a-Service” offering for business and education, starting at $28/employee/month.  We’ll come back to the business play a little later. 

Some think Chromebook could flop, saying that Google could be shooting itself in the foot by creating competition for Android tablets and some think that it will fly, calling it a new breed of hardware for people who live their lives in the cloud, and still others think it’s all right but doubt whether a real user could subsist on a Chromebook alone.  Others remind us of Chrome OS security problems and caution users to be aware of the real threats.

I’m so glad we all agree.  I think it’s a good start toward building an ecosystem, which is the real key to winning in the Cloud Era.  I also think there are a lot of “average” PC users and small businesses who will LOVE the convenience of always-up-to-date low maintenance systems and the Web App Store user experience that the Chromebook will offer.  But I do have a few concerns about security, in terms of basic BCDR practices and “putting all your eggs in the cloud basket” and about whether the support that Google will offer is going to be up to snuff for a business user. 

But is there an opportunity for us the IT Services Providers?  Why yes, there is.  I like the way that Larry Walsh of Channelnomics puts it:

Attached Sales Potential:  Let’s assume businesses jump on the Chromebook bandwagon. For basic productivity applications, they’ll have two choices: either virtualize Windows applications with VMware and Citrix (already in the works) or migrate from Office to Google Apps. With the adoption of a new operating system and operating paradigm will come the need for new applications. This will open opportunities for Google Apps resellers and solution providers specializing in Google Apps support.

Google also says it’s been working with Citrix and VMWare to make “conventional” software more accessible on Chrome OS.  So even that revenue opportunity might not be long-lived.  Much remains to be seen, though, and you can be sure that Google’s still got more tricks up its sleeve.  We hear that Chromebox is the next wave, a Chrome OS desktop box for Enterprise.  HaaS is hardly new, but let’s wait and see how Google does it. 

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