Last week, Google introduced Chromebook, a new laptop based on Google's Chrome operating system. What makes Chromebooks interesting is that it stores everything online -- the apps, the data, etc. are all stored in the cloud.
Google says that Chromebooks turn on instantly (as compared with Microsoft-based PCs) and can be simpler to maintain (again, compared with Microsoft PCs).
But what's instructive for the rest of us not directly involved in the Google v. Microsoft battle is that Google made sure to launch Chromebooks with several beta customers.
The fact is that Google has a strong reputation for its products, services and programmers. If Google says it's delivering something, most people will accept that the technology delivers what Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, says it does.
And yet, Google felt it needed the credibility of beta customers to support the need for this new laptop with its new business and operation model. And yes, Google had pre-briefed industry analysts at Gartner and IDC but realized they needed validation from actual users. Check out this New York Times article, "Google’s Chrome Laptops to Go on Sale in June," which includes quotes from Jason's Deli, a chain of 250 restaurants and Logitech. Additionally, Google cited other users (note: the article does not call them customers) such as Intercontinental Hotels, Group and Logitech, saying they "had already begun using Chrome."
We always tell clients that having customers who will talk to the media is an important element for securing media interest. It's instructive to realize that having customers is an important element to a product launch even for Google.
The important point about naming organizations "using Chrome" is this: it doesn't call them customers so we can't be sure they're actually paying to use Chrome. In other words, sometimes, even for Google, it's worth giving away technology in exchange for citing or quoting them in press materials.