Will Google Drop a Chromlet on Black Friday?
Months ago, Google promised a mini-computer running the Chrome operating system would hit the market by the 2010 holiday season, and the Download Squad may have uncovered new details about the device. It will supposedly be a tablet with 2 GB of RAM and 3G abilities. However, Google's other OS, Android, is the one with the app momentum, and both are under the cloud of Oracle's litigation.
Google will launch a Chrome OS tablet on the Verizon network Nov. 26, know to retailers as "Black Friday," according to the Download Squad.
The device is being built by HTC, a company that's made several Android devices in the past.
If true, the move will fulfill Google's announcement earlier this year that it would launch Chrome OS tablets in time for the holiday season.
However, it's not yet clear how Chrome OS tablets will coexist with those running the Android operating system, which is also offered by Google. Will they be targeted at different markets?
Also, could Oracle's lawsuit against Google hamper sales of Chrome tablets?
Suggested Chrome Tablet Specs
The rumored Chrome OS tablet will likely be based on Nvidia's Tegra 2 platform, Download Squad speculated.
The Chrome OS tablet will reportedly have a 1,280-by-720 multitouch display, 2 GB of RAM, at least a 32 GB solid state drive, GPS, a webcam and possibly expandable storage through a multi-card reader. For connectivity, it will reportedly have WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G capabilities.
Back in December 2009, IBTimes listed the specs of a Google Chrome netbook it said was in the works. This would have a 10.1-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) multitouch display which would be HD-ready, a 64 GB solid state drive, 2 GB of RAM, a webcam, a multi-card reader and WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth and Ethernet capabilities as well as USB ports, according to IBTimes.
Speculation was that this netbook would be offered at less than US$300.
"I expect the product to be very raw, more of a late beta than a true final product for some time, but for some, and I'm likely in that group myself, that can actually be OK, given that we like being the first to try stuff out," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.
"This is a taste of a product that won't really be ready until mid-2011," Enderle added.
"It would be better if Google launched the tablet earlier, but people are buying later now than they did in the past, so Google could still do well as long as the tablet's available for shipping after the launch," Maribel Lopez, principal analyst and founder of Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld.
Google first announced plans to build a netbook running the Chrome OS back in November of 2009 when it opened the source code for the operating system to developers.
At that time, Sunder Pichai, vice president of product management of Google, said the Internet giant would have these netbooks ready for the 2010 holiday season.
The first batch of these netbooks would be offered as companions to users' existing PCs, and would focus on entertainment. Pichai said owners would be able to play videos and games on them, as well as read books.
At that time, Pichai also said the Chrome OS would be tweaked before it was put on devices going to retailers' shelves.
Last week, Google tweaked the Chrome OS twice. On Aug. 11, it unveiled a beta release that included new features such as Autofill and the ability to let users sync Chrome extensions and Autofill data through their Google accounts.
Google also tweaked the Chrome browsers user interface. The new beta release is faster than its predecessor, Google said.
On Aug. 12, Google announced a new Chrome to Phone extension that lets users send the current Web page, map, YouTube videos, selected phone numbers or text from their PCs to mobile devices running Android 2.2, also known as "Froyo."
Google declined to elaborate on the reports of an upcoming Chrome tablet launch.
"We do not comment on rumor or speculation," spokesperson Gina Weakley told TechNewsWorld.
But What About Android?
Manufacturers are racing ahead with Android-based tablets. For example, Samsung will reportedly show off the P1000 Galaxy Tab Android tablet at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin next month.
Dell's Android-based Streak tablet hit retail shelves Aug. 13, and Cisco announced its Cius Android tablet back in June. Archos has offered an Android tablet, the Archos 7, since March.
LG has announced plans to release an Android tablet in the fourth quarter of this year, and several other manufacturers have plans to release Android tablets.
What will happen to Android tablets now that Google is offering Chrome devices?
"I'm not sure about the difference between Android and Chrome and how they intersect," Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo, told TechNewsWorld. "Will Android apps run on Chrome?"
Apps are the key to success in the mobile market, and Chrome's compatibility with Android apps is a make-or-break issue, he said.
"Android seems set to get a critical mass of apps, and that makes Android smartphones very attractive," Eisner pointed out.
To Have and Have Not
More Chrome and Android tablets are likely to hit the market. However, that market may be roiled by the shadow of Oracle's lawsuit, which hangs heavy over tablets running Android and Chrome. Oracle is suing Google claiming that the Java engine used in Android infringes on the patents it picked up in its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.
"Be aware that, just like Android, Chrome is likely to infringe on Oracle's patents and that could prove problematic," Enderle warned.