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June 27, 2017

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Google takes aim at conference rooms

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google took aim at office meeting rooms on Thursday with the release of a Chromebox for videoconferencing.

"These days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones," product management vice president Caesar Sengupta said in a blog post.

"Meetings need to catch up with the way we work — they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device."

Chromebox-for-meetings is available in the U.S. at a starting price of US$999 and is to be released later this year in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, and Spain.

The first model box comes with a high-definition camera and a speaker with a microphone. A monitor must be provided.

There is an annual management fee of US$250 for the videoconferencing setup.

As many as 15 people can take part in a Chromebox video conference using smartphones, tablets, laptops or other Internet linked computers.

Google has been working to expand its business beyond online search and into businesses with a productivity and collaboration software offered as services in the Internet cloud.

The California technology titan also continues to promote Chrome-powered boxes and laptops that push computing power to servers in Google data centers.

Google introduced the first Chromebook in mid-2010 in a challenge to Windows operating software at the heart of Microsoft's empire.

The array of Chromebook makers has grown to include Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard, with many models offered at bargain prices when compared to high-end laptops.

Shifting operating software to banks of servers online means that Google updates programs and fends off hackers and malicious software.

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