GOOGLE MOVED to push further into corporate IT shops when it unveiled the
Chromebook netbook computer at its Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco earlier this month.
The new Acer- and
Samsung-built computers will
run the Google Chrome OS
operating system, which was
built to run Web-based applications. They will join the
company’s hosted office applications, the Chrome browser
and the Android mobile
platform as key components
of Google’s enterprise effort.
The Chromebook will run
cloud-based applications and
will receive software and security updates automatically.
Analysts said they expect it
to attract the attention of IT
managers because it could
help them cut software, services and security costs.
Further, they said, companies might be intrigued by the
fact that the Chromebook will
be available on a subscription
basis — businesses can “rent”
the devices from Google for
$28 per user per month, while
schools and government agencies will be charged $20 per
user per month.
“[Google isn’t] going to
make a lot of money in the
short term on either the OS or
the devices, but they’re playing
a longer-term game here,” said
Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel
Samsung’s Chrome OS-based netbooks will be priced
from $429, and Acer’s will
start at $349. They will be
available on June 15 from Best
Buy and Amazon.com.
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, said Chromebooks
will let IT shops test cloud apps easily. And he predicts that such
tests could help convince IT managers that the cloud is secure.
A purely Web-based computer “is much more secure,” Kerravala said. “All the content and apps live in the cloud, so if a
device is lost or stolen, there’s no risk. It’s great for road warriors
because it’s instant-on and doesn’t have the usual issues of having
to update patches.”
however, suggested that
automatic delivery of security
updates could give IT manag-
“This does concern me,”
said Jason Miller, data and
security team manager at
security vendor Shavlik
Technologies. Patches should
be tested before they’re de-
ployed, he said, but with the
Chromebook, “you don’t get a
say, [which] leaves you at the
mercy of Google.”
“This is never going to fly
for IT,” contended Jeremiah
Grossman, CTO of WhiteHat
That’s because administrators are responsible not only
for the security of corporate
networks, but also for their
smooth operation. If a patch
in a Chrome OS update leaves
the Chromebook incompatible with a Web application or,
worse, cripples the machine,
it’s the administrator’s neck
on the line, not Google’s.
Over the long run, though,
any IT resistance to automatic
updates may be moot, said
Gartner analyst John Pescatore.
“I think that really is the
way of the future. It is pretty
much how it works in the
smartphone and cellphone
world,” he said. “Enterprises
will just have less control
in the future. And security
strategies will have to evolve
to deal with it.”
The Samsung Chromebook
has a 12.1-in. display, an Intel
Atom dual-core processor,
two USB ports, and a full-
size keyboard and trackpad.
Acer’s machine has an 11.6-in.
display, an Atom dual-core
processor, two USB ports, an
During a press conference at the Google conference, Sundar
Pichai, senior vice president for Chrome at Google, said the
company doesn’t plan to introduce a Chrome OS tablet computer
in the near future. “We have no other plans at this time [for] any
other form factors,” he said. u
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome at Google,
shows off a Samsung Chromebook during a keynote address
at the Google I/O developers conference.
Netbook to IT
The Chromebook’s use of cloud-based
apps and its monthly ‘rental’ model could
attract the attention of corporate IT.
By Sharon Gaudin and Gregg Keizer