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Google Introduces Chromebox Computer for Faster Online Meetings

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc. introduced a computer designed to help businesses hold online meetings as the company looks for new ways to attract corporate customers to its software.

Chromebox for meetings, which includes a computer, camera and remote, will cost $999, said Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for Chromebooks. The computer is made by Asustek Computer Inc., and future hardware partners include Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

“We think there is a big market for this,” Sengupta said. “We hope this takes off.”

Google, which leads the online advertising market, is pushing into new areas to boost growth and attract more users to its Web-based services. The new computer is aimed at business customers who could help propel sales of Google’s Chrome operating system, which provides software in the cloud.

Chromebooks captured 3.3 percent of the market for back-to-school shoppers in the U.S. between June 30 and Sept. 7, according to the NPD Group. Chromebooks made by Acer Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are the best selling laptops on Amazon.com Inc.’s site.

Chromebox for meetings goes on sale today in the U.S. and will be rolled out to other countries in the coming months. The service fee is $250 annually, which is included in the price of the product for the first year, and the technology will work with existing video-conferencing gear, using a new tool from startup Vidyo Inc., Sengupta said.

The computer ties into Google Calendar and lets users quickly join a conference. The technology includes high-definition cameras and noise-cancellation for audio quality. Customers are responsible for the monitors.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net

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