Thu, Dec 09, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Google unwraps Chrome PCs too late for holidays

Reuters, SAN FRANCISCO

Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management for Google, holds a netbook that runs the company’s Chrome OS during a company event on Tuesday in San Francisco.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The first laptops powered by Google Inc’s Chrome operating system will reach store shelves months later than expected and miss the holiday shopping season as the Internet company fixes software issues.

The Web-centric computers, intended as an incursion into territory dominated for years by Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc, will ship around the middle of next year.

Google, the world’s No. 1 Internet search engine, is holding off launching the Chrome-based PCs until it can fix some software bugs and make sure that the computers are compatible with other devices such as digital cameras, Google product manager Sundar Pichai said on Tuesday.

“Amazing progress, but we aren’t fully done yet,” Pichai told reporters at a press briefing in San Francisco.

“If I’m shooting for one holiday season, I wouldn’t be working on it. This is a journey,” Pichai said in an interview after the briefing.

Once they arrive, the computers will embody Google’s strongest foray into consumer and business computing.

Prices of the laptops have not been determined, executives said when asked if the Web-centered notebook computers might cost less than traditional PCs that brim with storage and processing hardware.

“You will see a variety of notebook price units,” Pichai said.

Samsung Electronics and Acer Inc (宏碁) will make the first laptops. Intel Corp will make the processors in the first batch.

The first laptops will come with 100 megabytes of free wireless data transfers per month for two years, courtesy of Verizon Wireless. According to Verizon, streaming video for just two minutes every day amounts to 260 megabytes of data downloads in a month.

The laptops promote Web-centric computing, in which people use online applications instead of software loaded onto PCs.

As part of that effort, the company on Tuesday opened an Internet store selling about 500 games, productivity tools and other software applications for Chrome, carving out a bigger role in Internet media and entertainment.

As with Android mobile phones, the Chrome software is expected to spur people to use the Internet more often and search for more things. That could boost Google’s Internet ads business.

While Chrome-based PCs won’t be available in retail stores until next year, Google has begun a pilot program distributing prototypes to schools, businesses, developers and other users with the intent of collecting feedback.

The all-black “CR 48” prototypes come with 12.1-inch screens, 3G connectivity and Webcams, but do not have any logos or branding.

The market for PC operating systems is dominated by Microsoft, whose Windows software is used on more than 90 percent of the world’s PCs.

Microsoft declined on Tuesday to comment on the Chrome developments.

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