From July 1 – September 30th, 2011, Virgin America passengers can give the Chromebook their own “test-flight” while in-flight, or at select airport gates. And naturally, passengers will receive a free WiFi session onboard their flight via the Gogo network. Travelers journeying from San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth should expect to see Google “Chrome Zone” lounges popping up, offering them a chance to learn about the Chromebook, as well as check one out for their flight. A credit card swipe is required to receive said cloud-computing, but for deposit purchases only. Once it’s wheels down, passengers can simply return their Chromebook to a friendly Chrome Zone representative on the other side.
“Our goal has always been to use the best in technology to reinvent the travel experience – and help bring some fun back to flying,” said Porter Gale, Vice President of Marketing for Virgin America in a statement. “As another California company known for connecting people in new ways, Google has been a key partner with us from our very first flights in 2007 – powering the interactive Google maps onboard our Red entertainment platform. We’re delighted to team up with Google yet again in a way that keeps our guests entertained and connected – in both the physical and virtual clouds.”
Given the platform and usage that Google is promoting; Instant on, all your files on the web, etc. partnering with a premier New York City hotel destination, as well as a national airline carrier is the perfect fit for travelers who may or may not be lugging their standard notebooks/laptops around with them, and demonstrating the ease of use, portability, and “no wait” features.
Ace Hotel and Virgin America are also combining forces to bring travelers a “Get Away with a Chromebook” contest that will see one lucky winner receive a Chromebook as well as a two-night stay at The Ace Hotel in Manhattan (flights for 2 included!) This lucky winner will also receive a 30-day pass to use as much of the Gogo in-flight WiFi as they choose.
With Google starting to put some muscle behind their newest offering, and Apple heating up the cloud with their recently announced iCloud service, it’s clear that there’s a revolution afoot, and like it or not, we’re all moving to the cloud. Google offers us a notebook..er…netbook…um…Chromebook that’s essentially devoid of anything on it, while Apple will no longer offer future OS releases via physical media.
And while I’m all for having my data accessible anywhere, there’ve been a few reminders of late, good or bad (Anonymous), that not everything is always so “safe and secure” in the cloud. As data that resides on the web, any and all cloud based data is susceptible to falling into the wrong hands, sometimes with nothing more than a password sniffer.
The question that remains is, will the adoption of a web-only based device be enough to not only win over casual consumers, but perhaps more importantly, can such a device/service pass the stringent tests of your IT security staff to make the Chromebook a fully-fledged competitor in a road warrior market?