Rumor: Will Google Chrome Cloud Netbooks Be HaaS?

Matthew Weinberger

April 22, 2011

2 Min Read
Rumor: Will Google Chrome Cloud Netbooks Be HaaS?

There’s a rumor flying around that the upcoming Google Chrome OS netbooks, which have the distinction of running exclusively on cloud software and services, will be available by subscription. That’s right — there’s a possibility that rather than pay $400 up front for a Chrome netbook, customers may have to lease them from Google directly for $10 to $20 per month. Is Google getting into the hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) business?

To be perfectly honest, this rumor doesn’t really ring true with me. The buzz can be traced back to IT perspectives and news website Neowin, which hinges this Google Chrome report on an unnamed “reliable source.” That alone should alert you to the very high probability that the report is scurrilous. But let’s pretend, just as a thought experiment, that this Google Chrome netbook hardware subscription is a thing that will happen.

Neowin’s source claims that the subscription fee is somehow part of a bundle deal with Gmail, though it’s unclear if that’s just for consumers or if it extends to Google Apps for Business customers. And as long as you’re paying your $10 to $20, Google will send you the latest version of the hardware. They’ll also make the netbook available at a normal price point, but that mysterious source indicates that in that instance, Google will take advantage of more traditional distribution channels.

Google is no stranger to software as a service. But how would Google and its reseller partners react to a shift into recurring hardware fees? And more importantly, would it help or hurt Google’s vision for a 100% web world in the marketplace?

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