Later today, Google is expected to announce a new program to lease the new Chrome OS laptops to students, according to Forbes. For just $20 a month, students will be able to rent a pared-down, cloud-based computer that will likely resemble the Cr48 prototypes released last December. The computer starts up quickly, looks like a MacBook and an unnamed Google executive said will likely depend on the Google Apps suite, which is basically a browser-based clone of Microsoft Office.
According to one Google executive, "Small and medium-sized businesses are banging on our doors to get something like this." And Google is surely dying to get more businesses--including colleges--to sign up for the $50 per user per year subscription for custom access to Google Apps. Since without any internet access the Chrome laptops are essentially poorly shaped doorstops, we might also expect a bundled contract that includes the device and WiFi or 3G service from a provider. It's not out of the question that Google itself may want to be that provider at some point in the future as they've also been testing out their own large-scale WiFi network in Mountain View, California, home of their HQ. Either way, at $20 a month--plus whatever forced allegiance Google imposes--the new laptop is roughly the same price as a 30-rack of Pabst. So pick your poison boys and girls.