Google yesterday took the wraps off its new Chrome operating system, which turns out to be as focused on the mobile world and cloud as anything.
Qualcomm is providing at least part of the innards for the Chrome laptop, namely its patented Gobi chip. Gobi is a 3G modem with the ability to connect devices to both EV-DO and HSPA cellular networks using a single embedded device.
The chip uses a firmware image that is uploaded to the card prior to connection; the type of firmware image depends on whether the software is configured for a CDMA-based or a GSM-based network, which means Google would only need to produce one version of the Chrome laptop, which could then be set up for that carrier’s network upon sale to the consumer.
Google used the unveiling to also announce an agreement with Verizon Wireless to provide connectivity to Chrome-based netbooks. Consumers who buy a Chrome netbook will get a free allowance of 100MB each month for two years, with no contract. The Verizon Wireless connectivity is self-activated. Additional unlimited data is available via Verizon Wireless prepaid plans that start at $9.99 per day.
Google says the first Chrome OS laptops to hit store shelves will be built by Samsung and Acer and will be available by mid 2011. The company had originally slated the laptops to be ready for this year’s holiday season, but engineers said the system needed more testing before it was ready for market.
Google specifically unveiled the Cr-48 laptop, which is based on the company’s long-awaited Chrome OS. The Cr-48 is still in the testing phase, and anyone interested in participating in the beta program can register here. Those chosen will receive a prototype Chrome laptop for free and will be asked to provide feedback on their experience. The company says supplies are limited and not everyone who signs up will receive a machine.
Concurrent with the announcement, Google unveiled the browser-based Chrome Web Store, which will sell apps and extensions for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS.