Exclusive: Chromebooks on sale to Irish businesses

18 Sep 2012

The Chromebook and Chromebox

Chromebooks are now available for businesses in Ireland, Siliconrepublic.com can reveal.

Google has signed an agreement with its Irish partner Baker Security & Networks to supply the portable computers which run Google’s Chrome OS. Baker will carry the Samsung-built machines, as well as the Chromebox desktop unit.

The systems are effectively cloud computers; they are used for accessing web applications such as email, documents and so on, through the browser.

When Chromebooks first emerged last year, it was mooted that the devices could be available on an innovative pay-per-month pricing model. Instead, the machines will be available for a fixed, one-time price that includes delivery charges.

A Wi-Fi-enabled Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook will cost €564 plus VAT. Chromebooks are also available in 3G versions (SIM not supplied), but Baker is advising customers to opt for the Wi-Fi models and to use their mobile phone’s tethering feature if they are outside the coverage of a wireless network.

Older Samsung Series 5 models are also available at a reduced price of €430, plus VAT. The Chromebox is priced at €450 plus VAT, and it comes with ports for plugging an existing monitor and keyboard into the unit.

Word-of-mouth momentum

Paul McEvoy, who handles Google Apps business at Baker, said he expected steady buildup of sales via word of mouth. “As more and more people get them and use them, word will spread and go viral, and people will want one. I think that’s how it will go,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.

An improvement on last year’s early models is the availability of an offline mode through 16GB of flash memory and Google Drive, which lets users work on email and documents even when there’s no internet access, and then syncs those files the next time the system connects to the cloud.

According to Paul Cassidy, sales manager for Chrome EMEA at Google, the newer models have a faster processor than their predecessors.

For businesses looking to roll out Chromebooks or Chromeboxes in numbers, the devices come with a three-year support contract and a management console that allows IT departments to manage a fleet of units and push apps to them, as well as assigning a specific device to a particular user.

Chromebook security

Security is also likely to be one of the strong selling points for the Chromebook among some buyers. Google has long claimed Chrome OS is free of malware, while McEvoy pointed to the Chromebook’s on-disk encryption which ensures important information is protected – a useful feature in light of recent breaches where unencrypted data was found to have been stored on stolen laptops.

Baker has already been involved in Google Apps software migration projects involving large organisations, including the GAA’s 6,000 member clubs and some 22,000 students at University College Dublin.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic