Exclusivity is the easiest way to make something cool. If other people can't have it, the fact that you do is suddenly way more interesting. Which is why you can expect to see the few CR48 Chrome OS netbooks that make it to eBay sell for an exorbitant price. Google announced the new machines today at their big media event.
We all expected a Chrome OS netbook to launch today, and one, in fact, did. But I don't think anyone anticipated that it would never ever go on sale. The CR48 is not like the Nexus One. It is designed specifically for developers and other early adopters. The point is to allow Google to spread the word about their new OS while also collecting data on bugs and fostering a developer community.
The first commercial Chrome OS netbooks will be made by Acer and Samsung. We can expect to see them hit early next year. In addition, "Chrome OS is designed to work across a wide range of screen sizes and form factors, enabling our partners to deliver computing devices beyond notebooks."
So yes. Chrome OS tablets will happen. Google confirmed in the Q&A that they want COS to work across a wide range of form-factors.
The Netbook That Cannot be Bought is a pretty swanky piece of tech. It has a 12.1" display, "oversized clickable touchpad", world-mode 3G, n dual-band WiFi, 8+ hours of use and 8+ days of stand-by. There's also a webcam. The CR48 ONLY comes in black. There is no branding on the body and a switch on the bottom that allows you to access the hardware with apps.
That's right: this thing has a physical button that jailbreaks it.
Speed is the name-of-the-game with Chrome OS. That is what it brings to the table, and that is what Google chose to emphasize today. The CR48 can go from the box to set-up in sixty seconds. All you have to do is turn it on, choose your connectivity option, accept the ToS and do an update. You'll be prompted to login and take a picture. Then you're done.
If another Chrome OS user logs onto your machine, they get their experience. You can also open the machine in 'guest mode', which launches a totally private Chrome session. There's automatic sync too. If you're offline you can keep using your Google Docs. As soon as your machine picks up a signal again, it will sync.
This is helped by the fact that every Chrome netbook launched will have cellular connectivity. This means you'll be able to Google Cloud Print to any connected device at pretty much any time. Or so Google says.
They also say that Chrome notebooks will be the "most secure consumer computer ever". Which is a nice promise, but also basically an invitation for bored script kiddies to get to work proving them wrong.
Chrome OS sounds better every day- and the CR48 is an intriguing machine. If reading this article has you all bummed out about never being able to buy one, take heart. You can apply for Google's pilot program today. Think of how jealous all your friends will be.