updated 10:55 am EDT, Thu June 30, 2011
Virgin America to give demo Chromebooks, Wi-Fi
Google teamed up with Virgin America in an unusual promo Thursday to spur on early adoption of Chromebooks. Special areas known as Chrome Zones at the departure gates of flights in either direction between San Francisco International and Boston's Logan International, Chicago O'Hare International, and Dallas-Fort Worth International will both serve as pitches for the Chrome OS systems as well as give an opportunity to check out a free Chromebook for their flight. The promo not only gives use of the portable but free Wi-Fi from that system for the whole flight.
The Chrome Web Store is also getting a special Virgin America Traveler web app that helps plan a trip and its essential equipment through UrbanDaddy.
Virgin's tie-in lasts from July 1 through September 30 and is accompanied by a contest to win a two-night trip in New York City along with a Chromebook and a month's worth of free Gogo Wi-Fi that can be used either on Virgin or another supporting carrier.
The two are previous partners, having teamed up on free Wi-Fi. Virgin is one of the few US airlines to have Wi-Fi on all its flights and usually won't add a new destination without it as an option.
Google is hoping to tackle one of Chrome OS' inherent weaknesses with the promotion. The platform is based entirely on the web and only has some support from third parties for offline apps, leaving most Chromebooks useless on typical flights where Wi-Fi is still uncommon and 3G isn't allowed. Internet access is more frequently showing up on flights and is helping alleviate Chrome OS' problems, although it also means paying as much as $13 per flight to keep using a computer.