Would You Pay $20 Per Month for Google’s Web-Only Laptop?

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I actually like the idea of this—hear me out! Hear me out.

Google’s experimental Cr-48 laptop runs the company’s web-only “Chrome” operating system. It features instant-on startup, long battery life, and 100 megabytes of free Verizon cellular data usage each month. These are all nice things, to be sure, but you can’t just install software on the thing willy-nilly like you can with a regular notebook or a netbook.

Alas, people have been wondering what Google’s going to charge for these Chrome OS computers. You can’t charge too much, or people will just buy  netbooks, notebooks or tablets instead. You can’t charge too little or you won’t make any money. So what’s a search giant to do?

Neowin.net is reporting that “a reliable source” (anonymous, of course) has said that Chrome OS notebooks will be available to the public sometime in late June or early July and—get this—”Google will be selling the devices as part of a subscription model with Gmail to customers.”

The price? Between $10 and $20 per month. So even at $20 per month, that’s $240 per year for this computer. The kicker, though, is that—again, according to this source—Google “will provide hardware refreshes as they are released as part of the package, and will replace faulty hardware for the life of the subscription.”

So for $20 per month, you’d get a computer for browsing the web and every time a newer thinner/lighter/faster version of that computer gets introduced, you’d get the new one as part of your subscription.

Don’t forget about the free Verizon 3G connection, too. And since the entire operating system lives on the web, there’s no cumbersome process for backing up and transferring your data to the new computer. It’s all just there, exactly as Google’s Eric Schmidt outlined a year ago when he referred to Chrome OS devices as being “disposable.”

This $10 to $20 per month business should still be considered a rumor but if Google actually structures the sale of Chrome OS computers like this, it’ll basically be a no-brainer for most of the general public to “subscribe” to a computer that never has to be maintained, backed up or upgraded.

More on TIME.com:

Two Minute Video: Google’s Web-only Notebook, the Cr-48

Chrome OS Coming to Tablets, As It Should

Eric Schmidt: Chrome OS Devices To Be Disposable, Cost Under $400