Google Rolls Out Its 'Chromebook' Netbook

The netbook lives.

At Google's I/O conference in San Francisco Wednesday, the search giant finally did what some customers have been waiting for, for months -- it introduced netbooks running its open source Chrome OS.

The new Chromebooks, as they're called, will be available on June 15 from hardware partners Samsung and Acer, Google (NASDAQ: MSFT) officials said.

They will be sold by Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), and will be initially available in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, and Spain, according to company statements.

The units will be built on Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Atom processors, some of which will be dual-core CPUs, and will run on Google's Chrome OS -- an extension of the company's Chrome browser.

Pricing will be up to the manufacturers. However, the Samsung Chromebooks will retail in a range around $400 to $500, while the Acer devices will start at about $349, a Google spokesperson said in an email to InternetNews.com.

One of the big selling points that Google officials touted is the units' solid-state drive (SSD) memory, and automatic Web connections, which enable them to boot in less than 10 seconds, with the user's data stored on the Web.

"With a Chromebook, you won't wait minutes for your computer to boot and your browser to start ... Your apps, games, photos, music, movies, and documents will be accessible wherever you are and you won't need to worry about losing your computer or forgetting to back up files," a post to the Google Chrome Blog said.

Chromebooks will come with built-in support for Wi-Fi and optional 3G connectivity that takes advantage of subscriptions from Verizon Wireless.

Monthly subscriptions will start at $28 per user for businesses and $20 per user for schools, Google statements said, and will include 100 MB per month of mobile data.

Additionally, the Chromebooks claim long battery life -- as much as 8 hours on a charge for several models.

Google introduced Chrome OS in July 2009 and made it available to developers as open source.

The company demonstrated test models of Chromebooks in December, but said that the first commercial units would not be ready until mid-2011, though it had originally hoped to have them out in time for the 2010 holiday sales season.

Wednesday's launch met the revised schedule.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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