In a strategic move to lure business users facing a loss of XP support, Google has dropped the price on Chromebooks for business. How many businesses will jump at the offer?
The popularity of Windows XP continues to cause headaches for businesses and Microsoft. Now that the end-of-life deadline for XP has officially passed, Google is taking advantage by offering a discount to businesses looking to move from XP to Chromebooks.
Amit Singh, president of Google Enterprise, announced in a blog post Tuesday that any business considering Chromebooks will receive discounts on the Chrome devices if they purchase before June 30.
If you purchase Chromebooks through Google's Chromebooks for Business program, your company will receive $100 off each managed device it purchases. Considering the average price of a Chromebook hovers around $300, this is a big deal. In addition, Google is offering the following discounts for employees that need access to desktop apps on their Chromebooks:
1. Business can also get an additional $100 off each Chromebook if you purchase it with VMware Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
The discounts are a logical step after Google partnered with VMware to address some of the major compatibility concerns with a VMware for Chromebooks. According to Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder, virtualization licensing is a concern for potential enterprise adopters.
"The special offer takes on one barrier to Chromebook adoption in enterprise: The cost of virtualization licenses," Gownder said. "Chromebooks increasingly fill a potential computing niche within enterprises, but only for some workers in some verticals; there are simply too many legacy applications in use to move all of a company's employees to Chromebooks. Virtualization is one way out of this problem -- if you only use a legacy application infrequently, for example, you can access it using tools from Citrix and VMWare. But the cost of licensing makes that hard."
Windows 8 has met poor reception, giving Google a prime opportunity to push Chromebooks and the Google Apps suite for the enterprise. According to Gartner fellow Tom Austin, it's a smart move, but the opportunity wouldn't exist for Google if Microsoft hadn't forced the hand of business customers.
"This is a smart, tactical campaign that should somewhat increase the volume and velocity of Chromebook sales into enterprises of all sizes. What's clever, of course, is Microsoft has provided the pressure to force more people to get off of XP, many of whom wouldn't go through the gauntlets they face if not forced," Austin said.
Google has made various steps toward the enterprise with announcements like the Asus Chromebox and Google+ Hangouts for the conference room, but fear of transitioning to a cloud-based system has kept potential customers at bay. And Austin said the potential spending spree could also be a factor. Businesses are looking at the possibility of migrating data, changing user procedures, retraining operators, and replacing business applications, among other things.
"Google is showing a commitment to Chromebooks that I believe is part of a longer game: Google will unify Chrome OS with Android over the next year or so, at which point Chromebooks will become a great deal more interesting because of the wide array of applications available for Android," Gownder said.
Ending support for XP makes sense on Microsoft's end, but that doesn't mean it's the right move. Consider this analogy from the automotive industry.
"I have a 1962 Morgan Plus 4 Roadster. It's still supported by the factory with spare parts. And many other marques -- such as Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar -- have similar policies on supporting heritage products. But the automotive market is different," Austin said. "There's a large and vibrant classic car market that funds heritage product production, warehousing and sales via their purchases. There's no such market around computers."
According to Austin, Google wants to capitalize on that pain and be the rebound for all of these distressed businesses.
"So it's good for Microsoft," Austin said. "But Google recognizes this as an opportunity for Google, too. If XP customers have to run the gauntlet, why not make it just a bit easier to move to Chromebooks? That's what Google is doing -- lubricating the skids of a switch to Chromebooks."
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