New Chromebook and Chromebox rentals lower prices

Google Chrome logoGoogle is now offering rentals of its Chrome OS devices to businesses and educational institutions, the company announced today on its enterprise blog. Under the rental model, Chromebooks can be rented for $30 a month for the first year, $25 a month for the second year, and $20 a month for the third year, while Chromeboxes cost $25 a month for the first year, $22 a month for the second, and $18 a month for the third. Rented devices come with the same phone support, three-year hardware warranty, and Chrome OS management console access afforded to those who pay for the standard support agreement. A Google representative told Ars that at the end of the third year, businesses can either return the devices or continue renting them at the third-year rate.

The move is something of a reversal for Google: its first Chromebooks were offered to businesses and schools under a subscription model with three-year contracts. But the most recent Chromebook and Chromebox from Samsung switched to a model wherein users paid for the device upfront, and then paid an additional $150 (or $30, for schools) for phone support, an extended hardware warranty, and access to the Chrome OS management console we examined back in June.

The rentals, which are handled on Google's behalf by the CIT Group, can be cancelled by the user at any time without incurring extra fees. This makes it a decent way for businesses to try out Chromebooks and Chromeboxes without a significant upfront investment, but it should be noted that you will actually end up paying more over the life of a three-year contract: you'll pay $900 for a $599 Chromebook at the end of three years, or $780 for a $579 Chromebox. In both cases, the cost of the rental exceeds the upfront cost of the hardware right around the end of the second year.

The biggest problem that has faced Chromebooks has been their price, which has been comparable to low-end Windows hardware despite being less flexible than Windows machines. This move doesn't solve that problem—indeed, in the long term it actually makes it more expensive—but it does make it easier for businesses to try Chrome hardware without committing to a purchase.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Chrome OS, Google, OSes

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