Open question: Would you rent a laptop?

The Google Chrome netbook rumors have expanded to include subscription-based distribution.

questionmarkAmid rumors that Google will soon release its Chrome OS-based netbook there are also rumblings the laptop will be available on a subscription basis. A post on technology news site Neowin last week stated:

Neowin can now confirm from a reliable source that the Google Chrome OS based notebooks will be available for “purchase” in late June/early July … Google will be selling the devices as part of a subscription based model with Gmail to customers.

Neowin’s Google source also spilled rental fee details: “$10-$20 a month per user,” and this would include hardware updates and repair as necessary.

Interesting concept — a sort of laptop democratization. The expected laptop will be cloud-based and make use of Chrome apps.

This begs a couple of questions:

  • Would you rent a laptop?
  • Would a cloud-based device like this suit your laptop needs?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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  • David

    I think it makes sense in the enterprise environment (as noted in the article) Google App customers renting the client hardware.

    Google could potentially rent them with their gigabit internet deployment and through other ISP as part of the internet subscription package.

  • It does make lot of sense to me specially for corporate customers. But are we going to see Google on each and everything?


  • Brett F


    At that rate ($10-$20) it’s a commodity and covering hardware & software upgrades and support issues clinches the deal.

  • ambiguator

    as long as the $10-$20 / month is not on top of acquisition or contract fees, and as long as upgrades are cheap and easy, it makes sense as a replacement for my netbook.

    however, based on my experience with mobile, i can see the actual costs quickly adding up to make this less affordable than replacing a netbook every couple of years.

  • Alex Tolley

    How practical is this? Used laptops are cheap. The Chrome apps will need access to the web, requiring a monthly connection fee or use where it is free, e.g. schools and colleges.

    But with decent cheap laptops in the $250 range, the rental is quite expensive. Financing a new one would make more sense.

    I could see a niche market for the product, but I fail to see the attraction given that computers are cheap commodities.

  • Yeah, if i am out without laptop. I may rent from them. There can be many more reasons to rent a laptop like if your laptop is not working and can’t be fixed within a sort of period due to some reason. You may prefer renting a laptop.

  • Tony

    Google does not do Hardware well. Look at the Google phone.

    My concern would be their support, and hardware upgrades.

    Would I subscribe, sure, would I subscribe with google.. not so sure.

  • Only if the rental fee covered the cost of them removing the hard drive and chipper-shredding it after return. Otherwise, another possible vector for exposing my logins and other data is the last thing I need, let alone would pay for.

  • Bob Miller

    This would be good for international travel, since Bad Things happen to laptops in US customs.

    But at home, no. I can’t get an Internet connection that is fast enough, low-latency enough, or reliable enough to use for everything. Local compute and storage will be necessary for a long time in much of the US.

  • I can see where some might need to rent a lap top but for me no way! To me a lap top is a little to personal.

  • Definitely, if the costs were equivalent or lower than buying one.
    FWIW – I bet if you change the word “rent” to “lease” in your question you’d get a higher number of affirmative answers.
    After all, a great many people already lease their equipment from manufacturers. And in many ways the words are interchagable.

  • If the subscription includes hardware and a 3G plan, stays within the $20- $30 a month range,then I would definitely consider it.

  • Not sure how this would work or whether it is of any value. Are we talking short-term of long-term rental?

    If it’s long term then it’s not a sound investment in my opinion. If it’s short term them i would be too worried about security

    I travel everywhere with my laptop so would never need to rent. Using services such as Dropbox i ensure that i can access my files wherever i am.

  • Luk

    @Garmon Estes That’d be a pretty awesome deal, considering 3G plans (at least in Europe) :D

    $20, considering I change my computer every 3 years would be pretty sweet. I usually spend ~ $1000 for a laptop.

  • Rambo Tribble

    While it has to be noted that the devil is in the details, it seems Google might find traction with this further step in the evolution toward computing/communication/media as not just a commodity, but a subscriber utility. Ironically, forty years ago many were similarly renting time, access and hardware to run Telex terminals hooked to a PDP-8.

  • ChrisFS

    In January, I bought a nice used laptop for $170. It’s not the latest, but it has a big enough hard drive and a fast enough chip to let me use Word, Excel and surf the video (including video). I intend to keep it for at least 8-17 mos and probably longer. So renting a laptop would be of questionable value to me.

  • I think the renting or leasing of laptops has its pros and cons. It’s good for people that cant afford a laptop or use one so rarely that there is no justification for buying one. I would be worried about my data being stored on one and someone seeing or using it after me. I would have to be assured that the laptop would be cleared of my information. Short term its ok but not for long term use.

  • I can’t remember if it was on Slashdot or Ars today but an article was written about Aarons’s rental and them installing monitoring software on their rental PCs. The short of it was that they were able to have key logs, web cam pics, and other stuff of their renters. Their renters did not know about it either.

    I’m a Mac guy and my last 6 systems were all refurbs from Apple. That’s how I shaved my costs.

  • Renting a laptop?

    I have to say, I’m not feeling too confident with the idea.

  • Joe

    I’m quite skeptical, the device seems very restricted and limited in scope. Although to it’s credit from the demos I’ve seen it seems to be really fast, less than a few seconds from standby to a fully usable desktop interface.

    But there are far too many applications that I have on my windows laptop that I can’t do without. Essentially the control I have over my computing experience will be gone in Chrome OS.

    But I know I’ve been wrong in the past so I’m keeping an open mind. the ipad was ridiculed as a glorified iphone, which was nothing more than a money making gimmick. But now, for many it’s seen as an essential device.