Google Slashes Price Of Cloud Chromebooks

Google Chromebooks

The holiday price reduction comes as Google also tweaked the Chromebooks interface.

"[W]e're excited to share that beginning this week Acer and Samsung Chromebooks will be available starting at $299. The updated prices will be available through our online retail partners," Google Senior Product Manager Venkat Rapaka wrote in a blog post about the Chromebook price drop.

The price cut shaves about $130 off of Samsung's average Chromebook price, and about $50 off of Acer's.

Google first unveiled Chromebooks at its Google I/O conference. Chromebooks are billed as cloud-in-a-box notebooks that access apps through a Web portal. The devices, viewed as laptop hybrids, run Google's Chrome OS and Chrome browser over Wi-Fi and 3G for users to access Google Apps and other business applications via the Web. So far, Chromebooks have had an uphill climb in the tablet-dominated computing landscape.

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Google channel partners are also still awaiting the green light to start selling Google Chromebooks. Google has said that Chromebooks could reach the channel by the end of the year. In the meantime, some cloud solution providers have been launching services around Chromebooks.

Along with cutting the Chromebook price, Google this week also updated the Chromebook interface, giving the operating system a facelift. Some new features include a new login screen; a revamped New Tab page that Google said makes it easier to manage apps, bookmarks and most visited sites; and Google has added new shortcuts to the New Tab page including shortcuts to the File Manager on the Chromebook and to music apps and games in the Chrome Web Store. Google also retooled the Chrome Web Store to let users scan images to find apps and extensions.

Google also revealed that Samsung will launch a new black version of its Wi-Fi only Chromebook Series 5 in the U.S. for the holidays.

Google Chromebooks from Samsung and Acer went on sale in June. The cloud-focused notebooks come equipped with Google's Chrome OS and look to be a lower-cost cloud alternative to the Windows PC stranglehold. Google also launched a subscription service for Chromebooks through which businesses can rent them on a three-year refresh cycle with support, warranty and Web-based management included for a roughly $30 monthly fee per unit.

Google has already teamed up with Citrix and VMware for some enterprise applications to work on Google Chromebooks. And in August, Google updated Chrome OS to add support for VPN, secure Wi-Fi (802.1x) and access to virtualized applications through Citrix Receiver, enhancements that could make Chromebooks more attractive to enterprises.