Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will provide LTE connectivity for a version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) new high-end Chromebook Pixel laptop, which runs Google's Chrome operating system. For Verizon, the support of the Chromebook represents another avenue to get ancillary revenue from mobile devices other than smartphones and tablets.
The LTE-enabled Chromebook Pixel will go on sale in the U.S. in April for $1,449, far more expensive than Google's initial Chromebook, which was introduced last fall for $250 and was marketed as a cheap, disposable computing platform. The Chromebook Pixel, the first Chromebook designed and built by Google itself, also will come in a W-Fi only version that will be available next week for $1,299.
Verizon spokeswoman Debi Lewis declined to comment on carrier's LTE pricing for the gadget, citing a policy not to discuss products that are not yet commercially available. However, reports said that customers who buy the Chromebook with LTE will have multiple pricing options. According to the New York Times and The Verge, customers will be able to buy LTE access for a day or add the device to their Share Everything shared data plans for $10 per month. Further, the LTE-enabled Chromebooks also come with 100 MB of free data each month for two years, which is not a part of data allotments associated with Verizon's Share Everything plans, the NYT said.
Verizon is no stranger to backing Google's Chrome vision. In late 2010 the carrier launched a set of prepaid data plans specifically designed for devices running Google's Chrome operating system. As part of that effort, Verizon offered Chrome OS users a free 100 MB per month for two years from the time they first activated the 3G EV-DO service.
In a way, Verizon's plan for the Chromebook Pixel is similar to the plan Amazon unveiled last fall for its Kindle Fire HD, an 8.9-inch large-screen tablet equipped with LTE that sells for $499. The tablet comes with a $50 per year data plan from AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). Although the $50 per year rate plan only provides customers with access to 250 MB of data per month, it does offer 20 GB of Amazon cloud storage and allows them to upgrade to additional data plans from AT&T.
Google is clearly going after high-end power users with the new Chromebook Pixel, targeting Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) along the way. However, it is gambling that people will be willing to pay a premium to do all of their computing in the cloud. "For people who have committed to the cloud and really want a good laptop, this is the best laptop from a hardware standpoint," Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president for Chrome, said at a news conference Thursday, according to the NYT. "Some of them buy Macs, some of them buy Windows 8 machines and we wanted to make sure you could see Chromebooks in that segment."
Interestingly, neither Apple nor Microsoft has added LTE into their respective laptops.
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