Google Chromebox: Not An Apple Mac Mini
Google Chromebooks, those Web-based notebooks running Chrome OS, have a new sibling called the Chromebox. Indeed, the Samsung Chromebox is a home office device that resembles Apple’s Mac Mini. Why should Google Apps Authorized Resellers care? Here’s the spin from The VAR Guy.
Anecdotal evidence suggests Chromebooks — available from Acer and Samsung — have not been big sellers since launching in mid-2011. Although Samsung has expanded into the Chromebox market, only one Acer Chromebook is currently available from Amazon.com. Google has not discussed exact Chromebook sales volumes but Google says “hundreds” of schools across the U.S. Europe are adopting Chromebooks to gain predictable IT costs coupled with cloud apps.
New Google Chromebook Enhancements
Now, Google is announcing a range of Chromebook enhancements including:
1. Zero-touch deployment: This allows IT managers and channel partners to remotely set up and manage Chromebooks and Chromeboxes — including settings for users, apps and policies. A new Chrome OS release now allows IT managers and channel partners to push network settings and auto-enroll Chromebook and Chromebox settings when a user first logs in.
2. Windows Desktop as a Service: Google partnered with nGenx to introduce a hosted virtualization solution; it allows Chromebook and Chromebox users to run Windows applications via destkop as a service. Google claims the nGenx offering is “a fraction of the price of current virtualization offerings.”
3. Customer Wins and Vertical Market Enhancements: They include…
- Retail and distributed offices: Dillard Inc. will deploy Chromeboxes in hundreds of retail locations to give employees access to Google Apps and various internal apps.
- Call centers: Kaplan is moving a New York call center to Genesys’ HTML5-based customer service solution running on Chromeboxes.
- Mobile workforces: Mollen Clinics is deploying 4,500 Chromebooks with 3G connectivity to support Walmart & Sam’s Club flu clinics.
- Device lending: The California State Library is making 1,000 Chromebooks available for checkout in public libraries across the state.
4. Device Support: Google has introduced a management and support option that costs $150 per device (for businesses) and $30 per device (for schools) for the supported life of the device. Google notes that “you can purchase devices, and management and support directly from Google or our authorized resellers. And you can add management and support to any device that you currently own.”
Will these enhancements make Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes mainstream successes? It’s far too early to say. But it’s clear Google remains committed to Chromebooks as does Samsung. The VAR Guy concedes he needs an update from Acer to see why the company is promoting only a single Chromebook on Amazon’s website at the moment.