Google Chromebook for Business: What MSPs Need to Know Right Now

Google on June 15 will launch Chromebook for Business, a complete hardware and software as a service that will cost users $28 per device per month. Google announced the Chromebook for Business strategy this morning at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. If the service works as advertised, Chromebook for Business could be a potential landmark move that disrupts traditional PC and notebook markets. Here are the potential implications for managed services providers (MSPs) and VARs.

Chromebook for Business will blend hardware as a service (HaaS) with software as a service (SaaS). The Chromebooks, under development from Samsung and Acer, will be pure web devices that also support offline applications -- particularly Gmail and Google Apps.

The Google for Business service will include the Chromebook, a web management console, support, warranty and replacement hardware for $28 per user per month, according to Senior VP of Chrome Sundar Pichai. We have a complete recap of Pichai's keynote on TalkinCloud, MSPmentor's sister site. MSPmentor is meeting with Google this week to learn if there will be a Google Chromebook for Business channel partner program.

Key Considerations for Channel Partners

In the meantime some potential implications for VARs, MSPs and the broader IT channel:
  • More than 5,000 developers, channel partners and customers are attending this week's Google I/O conference in San Francisco. The energy is high...
  • Various Chrome OS and Chromebook for Business announcements wowed attendees today.
  • Google Chromebook for Business will likely launch around the time -- or sooner -- than Microsoft debuts Office 365, a complete cloud-based applications platform that will cost as little as $6 per user per month. However, it's unclear if Microsoft will counter Chromebook for Business with some sort of bundled Office365-hardware service.
  • It's unclear if MSPs will be able to leverage the Chromebooks for Business Web management console. I am checking with Jeff Ragusa and other Google sources to see if Google will extend the dashboard to managed services providers (MSPs).
  • I realize Chromebook for Business could also fail. If the user experience doesn't work as advertised, customers could become frustrated with Chromebook dependence on web connectivity.
  • Google's Pichai said the typical Chromebook will take 3 minutes for initial day-one setup, and then boot times will be essentially instantaneous/instant on.
  • Of course, many customers may reject the idea of storing all of their Chromebook for Business data in the cloud.
  • Acer and Samsung will also sell the Chromebooks in a traditional sales model, starting at about $349 to $429. The first Chromebooks will debut on Amazon.com and BestBuy online on June 15.
  • Google is not positioning Chromebooks as netbooks. Instead, Google is emphasizing the notebook terminology, perhaps because netbook sales have dropped in recenue months.
But the key point for MSPs: Pichai said Chromebooks for business will be "dead simple to manage," suggesting that Google will potentially disrupt the traditional PC and notebook markets starting on June 15.

Still, Google Chrome for Business's all-in-one service sounds disruptive. It will cost $28 per user per month for everything. I believe schools and education customers will pay $20 per user per month. I don't know if a long-term service contract is required.

More thoughts soon on MSPmentor.

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