SAN FRANCISCO--As is often the case during most large conferences, swagis given out to attendees. This year's Game Developers Conference was no exception, though those who managed to sit in on one of Google's two sessions on Chrome ended up walking out with something more than a free GDC tote bag--they got a laptop.
Following the sessions, Google handed developers blue cards saying they could exchange it at the end of the day for a "surprise gift from Google." What that ended up being was a Cr-48, the reference design hardware that houses Chrome OS, Google's still nascent effort at a standalone computer OS.
Google, of course, is no stranger to handing out high-value items to developers in the hopes of improving growth on its platforms. The company had given out free HTC Evo 4G cell phones to Google I/O attendees last year, long before they were on the market, and it had done the same with the year before with the HTC Magic.
Google staffers on hand would not provide a specific number of Cr-48 notebooks the company had brought for developers, but suffice to say that it was enough to supply all attendees of both sessions with something to take home. Following the afternoon hand-out, developers walking the halls of the show could be seen carrying the machines, along with stickers the company had given them to decorate the rather nondescript hardware.
Google first offered up the Cr-48 hardware as part of a pilot program that began with its introduction at a Chrome OS event in December. The machines given out at the show bring no changes since then. The design was never meant to be a device for sale but rather a way for developers to create Web applications that would run on the OS.
Google had originally described the program users had to apply for to get a Cr-48, as "not for the faint of heart."