The two foundation manufacturers which search giant Google has signed up to sell hardware running its fledgling Chrome OS platform have pledged to bring the devices to Australia in the second half of this year — although Australians have a while yet to wait for information on exact availability, linked 3G mobile broadband plans and pricing details.
Overnight at its I/O conference in the US, Google finally announced — after several years of developing and demonstrating the new operating system — that Chrome OS would hit the market through new laptops built by Korean manufacturer Samsung and Taiwanese manufactuer Acer, with the devices to go on sale from the middle of June starting from US$349. The video above by Engadget features a demonstration of the Samsung model.
Unlike traditional laptops or even the lighter, smaller breed of netbooks, the Chromebooks are designed to be constantly used with the internet — with data and even most applications to be stored online and used through modern cloud computing techniques — as opposed to run from the machines’ hard drive. Chrome OS itself is based on the open source Linux operating system. Google is also offering enterprise pricing for the devices on a rental model.
In separate statements, Acer and Samsung this afternoon made it clear that Australia was on their release lists — despite the fact that the nation wasn’t mentioned during Google’s event.
“Samsung Electronics Australia is planning to launch the Samsung Chromebook in the second half of 2011,” a company spokesperson said. “We look forward to sharing further details closer to launch.”
For its part, an Acer spokesperson said the company’s own offering would launch in “mid to late quarter 3” of 2011, confirming that the device would be enabled for 3G mobile broadband, but that the design and functionality was to be “managed by Google”.
Opinions are divided as to whether Chrome OS will become a mainstream platform as Google’s Android system has for mobile phones, or whether it will remain a niche offering. Since Google first outed the new operating system in 2009, the laptop market has changed dramatically, with much of the global interest in netbook devices being subsumed into the burgeoning tablet market let by Apple’s iPad.