updated 07:45 am EST, Thu December 17, 2009
Google may want reference netbook design
Google may extend its plans for self-designed hardware to include a netbook running Chrome OS, a rumor claims today. Just as the Nexus One is poised to serve as a showcase for Android, the company is believed by more than one source to be talking to a PC builder to complete a Chrome OS netbook based on its specifications. The system would be Google-branded and ship in the same late 2010 window that Google has said Chrome OS netbooks from Acer, ASUS and others will reach the market.
Few technical details are available, but TechCrunch hears the system will make wide-area 3G or 4G wireless a cornerstone of its feature set. A carrier deal with a subsidy is deemed likely. Google has already said that it will have a set of requirements for every netbook that, among other terms, will demand certain wireless chipsets and the use of a solid-state drive instead of a rotating hard disk. Atom is most likely for the processor as Chrome OS is optimized for x86 first and not ARM.
While the unnamed portable would be sold to regular users, it's unclear whether Google would intend genuine competition with its own partners or else plans it just as a reference design; Google's self-branded Android phones, such as the Dev Phone 1, Ion and possibly the Nexus One, have only been developer versions of HTC devices meant as unlocked, easily upgradable tools for developers.
Regardless of intent, a Google-branded netbook if true would mark Google's first entry into producing computers and would risk tension not only between itself and its fellow Chrome OS partners but also Apple, with which it has a longstanding relationship but has also had to create distance due to competitive concerns. The two not only produce mobile operating systems but may also compete in paid video as well.