Preston Gralla

Four reasons Chromebooks make sense for business

May 11, 2011 4:34 PM EDT

By Preston Gralla

The just-announced Chromebooks may not be ideal for consumers, but for certain businesses, they look to be a great deal. Here are four reasons Chromebooks could be a great fit for businesses.

They're cheap

For businesses, there are no upfront costs for Chromebooks --- just $28 per month. And that $28 per month is on a month-to-month basis; there are no annual contracts. Because the devices don't need to be purchased, it means that enterprises can significantly cut down on capital costs. Because they can simply be returned, with no penalties, it offers financial flexibility as well.

They don't require applications

Enterprises spend significant amounts of money on office suites and other applications. With Chromebooks, that cost goes down to zero. So do the associated support headches.

They're great for testing the cloud

Talk about the cloud is much like a quote misattributed to Mark Twain: "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." The same is true about the cloud: everyone talks about it but few are very serious about using it.

With Chromebooks, the cloud gets real. They represent a great test for whether a company can truly move as much as possible to the cloud. Enterprises would be smart to set up pilot programs moving to the cloud and accessing it via Chromebooks. Given that Chromebooks only require monthly fees and no capital costs, they're ideal for a test bed.

Support costs are low

With no applications to install, manage, update, and patch, Chromebooks can cut an enterprises's support costs significantly. As for hardware, if something goes wrong with a Chromebook, there's no need to spend any time troubleshooting --- simply return it and get a new one. You'll still only pay $28 per month.

But they're not for everyone

Chromebooks have many advantages, but they're not for every company. Web-based apps like Google Docs simply aren't as sophisticated as Microsoft Office, so companies whose employees require Office should stay away. In addition, Chromebooks require always-on Internet access, which isn't always possible for employees who travel.

Given that, companies would do well to phase in Chromebooks rather than going to an all-out deployment.