Google’s Chrome OS will be here this year and in a recent interview, Google CEO Eric Schmidt explained that Chrome devices will be “completely disposable,” meaning that if you lose one you won’t lose any of your data, and should be priced similarly to netbooks—between $300 and $400.
The entire interview can be found here. The section in question begins at around the 13:30 mark.
“The promise of Chrome and Chrome OS is that the devices that you give to your employees will have a two-second boot time, that they be completely disposable, and of course the price point is incredibly low.”
When asked about pricing for Chrome OS devices, Schmidt responded:
“Well, it’ll be up to the manufacturers that do it but the price points that you all should think about are the current netbook pricing, which is in the $300 to $400 kind of price points. And those prices are completely determined, by the way, by the costs of the glass, the cost of the processor, and things like that. In our case, Chrome OS and Android are free so there’s no software tax associated with all of this.”
The interviewer then asked Schmidt if he could see giving away the devices with 2-3 year contracts similar to how phone companies subsidize handsets, except that instead of phone service it would be a sort of “apps contract.”
“Oh sure. Sure. Although we’re not in that business, remember. We’re not in that business. We’re basically in the advertising and enterprise software business, not in that business. And I don’t think we’ll go that far. But we’ll see, you never know. We’re trying to build a whole new industry. If you think about it, there has not been a new, successful platform in this space in 20 years…
…We’re trying to develop a new set of platforms. It’s a platform at every level. It’s a device platform, it’s an input platform, it’s a mobility platform, it’s a communications platform, it’s an applications platform, it’s a data sharing platform. The combination of all of that is incredibly powerful.
The effect of this is that if you look at most of your costs, they seem to be related to the management of ambiguously owned devices. Does the employee own the device? Does the corporation own the device? Does the device have games on it? Does it have personal stuff on it? We solve all of that problem at once because of the combination of the cloud and the fact that the Chrome OS devices are essentially diskless. They have a cache but not a permanent disk.”
The whole concept makes sense and ought to be great news for anyone who’s lost a computer or had a hard drive crash. There will undoubtedly be some people who don’t want all their data to live in the cloud and prefer disk-based devices, though. It’s not to say that local storage will die anytime soon, but it appears that Google’s plan moving forward is for personalization to take place online and then made available to connected “disposable” devices.