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Students first to be offered $20/month Google Chrome laptop package

The blogosphere has been abuzz with discussion in recent weeks over rumours that Google is poised to launch its new Chrome-powered notebook under an innovative package that would eschew an up-front fee in favour of a low monthly payment. It looks like the rumour mill may well be right after all.

Quoting a ‘senior Google executive’, Forbes.com is reporting that Google plans to introduce a ‘student package’, pegged at $20 per month, which will include both the notebook hardware as well as all the programs and cloud services that comprise the Chrome OS software offering.

But it seems that this is only the beginning, and that this offer won’t be restricted solely to the student market. Indeed, it’s safe to assume that Google will take what it learns from this initial roll-out and apply those lessons to future offerings for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as enterprise and government sectors, at the same time as the company is working hard to push its Google Apps productivity suite to a broader range of users, especially within business environments.

The low-cost hardware and software also offers the tantalising prospect of affordable subsidies to provide inexpensive systems for low-income users or even developing markets, although the cloud-based services would still incur data charges.

If Forbes is to be believed, Google could announce this new student package as early as today at its I/O conference. It’s not yet known whether the firm plans to offer the same Cr-48 Chrome notebook that was announced and released to a limited number of users a few months back, or if new hardware will be announced; nor are there any details on whether similar packages for business and government might differ in terms of features or price to those offered to students.

One thing’s for sure though: despite the announcement of Ice Cream Sandwich unifying its Android phone and tablet offerings, Google remains committed to Chrome OS.

Would you pay $20 a month for a Chrome laptop?

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