Google’s annual I/O Developer Conference (available as a live stream) is generating news this week. The biggest headline: The announcement that it will offer a Chrome-equipped laptop that includes online services in a student package for $20 per month. The system will come with the increasingly popular Google Apps (word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, and other productivity software).
Note that Google already offers the software alone to businesses for $50 per year, so it’s easy to predict that the company will also soon offer the hardware/software bundle to businesses as well, giving IT something very new to think about. Analysts are predicting the cost will be very low, since Google will almost certainly heavily subsidize the hardware using the tried-and-true cell phone sales model.
Why is this good for IT? Because Google offers ways for companies to tightly control how users access and use shared data. Why is it bad? Because it’s hard to use Google Apps effectively when the laptop is offline, something Google understands and says it’s working on.
Large enterprises are sure to watch what happens as the student test run takes off. There are likely stumbling blocks ahead, but it’s easy to see why businesses would be attracted to an inexpensive cloud-based hardware/software combo that keeps things simple.