The Cost of Chrome OS: $250 or Less?

When I wrote about Google's experimental CR-48 Chrome OS notebook last December, I guessed that it might cost about $449 if it were a commercial product. That seemed high for a device that was entirely dedicated to accessing the Web (and nearly useless when you couldn't get online). And a bunch of people told me my guestimate was too high.

Months later, nobody has announced any detail on the Chrome OS machines which will supposedly be shipping in just a few months. But there are rumors-courtesy of rumor kingpin Digitimes-that Asus has plans to release a netbook for $200-$250 in June. One that might conceivably run Chrome OS. (I say "might conceivably" because Digitimes' sources say that Asus "should" use either Chrome OS or Android on the machine-which is a whole lot vaguer than saying that Asus will use either one of those operating systems.)

Could Asus sell a decent Chrome OS laptop with an 12.1″ screen and built-in wireless broadband for $250 or less? That sounds aggressive to me. But if they can manage it, the deal sounds a whole lot more appealing than the $449 Chromebook I envisioned. And if they can sell a clamshell device at that pricetag, couldn't they whack off the keyboard, add an on-screen one, and have a plausible low-end tablet?

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