Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) spent considerable time discussing hardware during an earnings call yesterday. Read between the lines and it looks like Google is making a very strong commitment to Chromebooks -- those cloud-centric notebooks currently offered by Acer, Samsung and Lenovo. CEO Larry Page described the "multi-screen world" in which "we are living in uncharted territory." And, he vowed, Google will push the user experience forward.

"It's been a long time in computing since we had this rate of change," Page said during the call. "It probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing. It's why we have put so much focus on devices. They have been one of our biggest bets in the last few years, along with software to go with these devices, Chrome and Android."

Then, Page turned his attention to the Chromebook strategy -- albiet briefly. The low-cost notebooks run Google Apps and other cloud services. Customers can purchase the devices outright, or rent them on a monthly basis. Gone are the days of patch management, anti-virus software and day-to-day software annoyances. Chromebooks essentially are cloud appliances, where Google manages everything.

"Our goal here is to push the user experience forward, so you get the best of Google in one easy to use package," said Page. "The Samsung Chromebook, which we launched in October at an amazing price of $249 was a holiday highlight. I love mine. It is super easy to use and almost maintains itself. Open a chrome tab on your phone and everything syncs on your laptop with no extra effort required. We also launched two new Nexus devices to rave reviews, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10."

Read between the lines an Page seems to be describing a mobile world where devices run super-light software locally, while leaning heavily on managed cloud services. And yes, Google continues to play a larger and larger role in that modern hardware world.

And that hardware, he noted, will increasingly leverage Google Play. He asserted: "Google Play, another big bet, is on fire. The growth is tremendous. This quarter we signed deals with Time as well as Warner Music Group. So we now provide contents from all the top Hollywood film studios, music labels and magazine publishers. We have not even reached Google Play's first anniversary."

So what does The VAR Guy think of Google's overall strategy, and the role of Chromebooks within that strategy? Stay tuned. Our resident blogger is testing Samsung's Chromebook. More thoughts coming soon.