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Google launches Chromebook retail push via Best Buy

Google Chrome OS-based computers are available in brick-and-mortar stores for first time

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's Chrome OS-based laptops could now be on the shelves of a nearby Best Buy store.

At the Google I/O developer conference here today, the company announced that its Chromebook laptops are now available at 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S. and at an unspecified number of Dixon stores in the U.K.

This is the first time that the year-old Chromebooks have been made available at brick-and-mortar stores.

Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Chrome, said that new round of Chromebook models should be available from more manufactureres than just Samsung and Acer by the 2012 holiday shopping season.

"Selling the Chromebooks in Best Buy is meaningful because it allows potential users to get their hands on them before buying. That important," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "Chromebooks could certainly use a boost. Sales have been disappointing, to say the least."

Late last month, Samsung took the wraps off two new Chrome-based computers - a laptop and a desktop.

Olds noted that it's a good move for Google to expand the distribution channels of the Chromebooks.

"Google needed to do something more to support and push the platform," Olds said. "Simply putting the OS and a system specification out there didn't get it done. Now that they are getting it on shelves, they'll have a better chance to catch on with consumers."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is [email protected].

Read more about hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.

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