Google in December unveiled a beta version of its Chrome OS notebook, dubbed Cr-48. Google plans to release two, Intel-based Chrome OS notebooks from Acer and Samsung in mid-2011, with Verizon Wireless providing cellular connectivity. No pricing information was released for the upcoming Acer and Samsung devices; Google said its partners will hold their own launch events in the future with more details. Google has announced that it has partnered with Verizon Wireless to provide 3G wide area network (WAN) coverage on every Chrome OS device. Each device will receive 100MB of data for free each month for two years.
My prediction on pricing will be under $100 and probably about $50.
The reason is that Google can come in below the price of the Amazon Kindle and under the price of many netbooks and most Android tablet PCs.
I think Google will subsidize its hardware partners because it is a thin browser that looks in Google search and advertising. If they can make $10 per month, then a $50 subsidy makes sense.
Google will be able to do the locking of search and browser because it is a dedicated device for that purpose and not like Microsoft Internet Explorer was a locking after the fact to a monopoly OS.
You will be buying a locked in situation and you will know that from the get-go to devices that start with no market share.
Why is there Google Android devices and Google Chrome devices
There are two because they serve different purposes. Google Android is a thicker and more flexible and more open software which is to compete with Apple iPhone and Tablets by using many hardware and software partners.
Google Chrome can go thinner, more closed, better security, less to hack but able to deliver to Google search and advertising domination. Chrome can also require more leverage of the Google cloud solutions (Gmail, Google Docs etc...)
Google can then subsidize based on estimate of the per seat revenue they expect each month or year from another person just playing with Google's stack.
I think Google will not go totally free right away because there will be need to ramp up production and to not have it perceived a free and disposable.
Cheap Google Chrome OS notebooks could also eventually compete for the $10-20 netbooks for the developing world.
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