Google is making a big move into software for businesses and schools by offering a cheap way of running its popular internet-based OS.
The company just unveiled the Asus Chromebit, a USB stick-sized PC with a HDMI fitting you can plug into any suitable display or TV to then run most traditional PC programs, from spreadsheets to email. Google wants people to see it as a way to turn any display into a usable computer, regardless of where you are.
Google has been pushing to get its Chromebook laptops into more schools and businesses, so the Chromebit is yet another move to get people using their internet-based software. Programs like Docs and Sheets are making working through the cloud that much easier, which means people are becoming less dependant on installed software.
Pressure is mounting on Microsoft as, with the release of several new Chrome OS devices (two of which are priced at under US$150), Google is trying to muscle in on the profitable education and business markets. This summer will also see the release of the the Asus Chromebook Flip, a new 15mm-thin Chromebook which will reportedly cost just $249 (£157).
Microsoft will try and push back with the release of Intel’s Compute Stick, the Windows-based equivalent of the Chromebit. The increasing development of similar products is an indication of where the world is with PCs: as they become cheaper and more portable, they’ll be available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
It continues the trend of little streaming sticks being used to bring internet services to large screens whether for business or pleasure. Google's Chromecast is used by many companies to bring up presentations on larger displays, because it saves the time it would take to plug in and prepare a projector. The Chromecast isn’t the only option though, and we have our comparison of the best streaming boxes/sticks here.
The most interesting part of this all, as pointed out by Google VP Rajen Sheth, is that these portable devices might cause an increase in the amount of digital displays used in signage. Not just because of simplicity, but because it would actually now be cheaper than printing one out. A 42in printed sign will set you back $200, money that could also get you a 42in LCD display and a Google Chromebit.
Stay tuned for more news of the release.