When Google started selling Chromebooks a few months ago, businesses were given the option of three-year subscription plans, which gave them access to the device and related services for a monthly fee, eliminating the need to make a big hardware purchase up front.
But today Google added a new subscription plan that lets customers purchase the devices up front and save money on the overall cost of a three-year service plan. Google has heard from some customers “that they work with yearly budget cycles,” Chrome for Business Education Product Manager Glenn Wilson writes in the Google Enterprise blog. “This new option gives schools and businesses a choice to pay upfront for Chromebooks with one year of access to the Web-based admin management console, phone support, and hardware warranty coverage. After the first year, customers can choose to pay a monthly fee for years two and three for management console access and support.”
Business pricing under this model is $559 or $639 up-front for the Chromebook and first year of service (the higher price being for the 3G version), and $13 per month in support costs during years two and three. For three years, this ends up costing $871 or $951 per user. Under the original subscription model, business plans ranged from $1,008 to $1,188 per user for three years.
Similarly, the new education purchasing option is $449 or $519 for the first year, and $5 per month per user for management and support in years two and three. This works out to $569 or $639 per user for three years, whereas the cheapest plan under a regular three-year subscription is $720 per user. One detail the blog post does not include is whether the new plans apply to both the Acer and Samsung versions of the Chromebooks.
While Chromebooks offer an interesting take on Web-based computing, they are hardly going to replace Windows PCs or Macs for most users. Google is trying to make the devices more useful by partnering with Citrix to connect the Chrome browser to Windows virtual desktops. Google is also offering a Web-based administrative console, but it’s not fully fleshed out. Google today said it has updated the console with group policy management, shipment tracking and asset management, and future updates will include inventory management, application management, network configuration, status monitoring and reporting, and printer management.
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