Rumor has it that Chrome OS notebooks will be launching in June or July on a subscription basis.
Reports on Neowin and Ariotech sparked heated discussions about a possible introduction of Chrome OS notebooks by June. There isn't much meat on the bones yet, though, as only unnamed sources are being quoted.
The Chrome OS feature set isn't exactly ready for a broad introduction. We're still missing remoting support, and there are plenty of performance issues. But Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is spending quite some time fine-tuning certain features that are critical for the launch, so there is at least some indication that the company is indeed working toward a rollout. For example, Chrome OS received interface updates for GSM-based 3G networks next to the standard Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) support. SPDY protocol has been enabled recently, and the branding has changed: Instead of being called Google Chrome OS, the software is now listed simply as "Chrome OS."
Are these last-minute changes? Your guess is as good as mine.
The speculation is that Chrome OS notebooks could be launching for a $10 to $20 monthly fee, which is likely to include a limited 3G data plan. We believe that this fee will vary depending on the hardware that's used. It's unlikely that an Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) Atom-based Chrome OS notebook can be offered for free, and we would expect a cost of $50 or a $100 out the door for such a device. The scenario for ARM-based notebooks may be different, and Cortex-A9 devices could, in fact, be free (excluding taxes, activation fees). There is speculation that these Chrome OS notebooks will be similar to the Chrome OS notebook that Google has given away for free.
ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) lately talked quite a bit about its performance gains within Chrome, which seems to hint at an ARM-based Chrome notebook coming our way. I'm just not sure whether Google and its OEMs will be able to sell these notebooks on a contract basis. This seems to be a tough proposition next to smartphones and iPads.
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