Touchscreen Google Nexus Chromebook reportedly in the works. Android convergence coming soon?

December 3, 2012
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Google-branded Chromebooks coming soon? (Pictured: Samsung Chromebook)

Google is taking a page from the Apple and Microosft playbook. While the company’s strength lies in its search business and mobile operating system, it’s not exactly a hardware company, except for its partnerships (past and present) with HTC, Asus and LG for the production of Nexus devices, and of course its ownership of Motorola Mobility. Recent reports indicate, though, that Google may be planning to produce a device of its own — more specifically, a Chrome OS notebook.

The China Commercial Times cites Taiwanese manufacturers Compal and Wintek as servicing orders from Google for Chromebook computers with a 12.85-inch touchscreen display. As such, while Google has relied on Samsung and Acer for its previous Chromebook releases, this upcoming release might be similar to how Microsoft is going forward with its Windows 8 platform, by producing its own Surface tablet.

Does it make sense for Google to market its own Chromebooks? Perhaps this effort goes beyond how Nexus devices are intended to provide a “pure Google” experience in Android devices, given that Chrome OS is essentially a Chrome browser running Google services. Market-wise, Chromebooks are going strong, despite the general decline in the desktop computer industry. Samsung’s ARM-powered $249 Chromebook is currently the best-selling notebook computer on Amazon as of end-November.

Going beyond Chromebooks and laptops, though, there is one other thing that market observers are seeing as a possibility: the marriage between Android and Chrome OS.

The concept of convergence between Android and Chrome OS is not exactly new, and Google VP for engineering Linus Upson  said as much at this May’s Google I/O conference. The Android and Chrome OS teams are “working together even more closely” he was quoted to say.

Further analysis by ZDNet‘s Steven Vaughan-Nichols even puts a stronger case for the Android-Chrome OS convergence. Chrome ships as the default browser for Android 4.x onward, and Android runs on Linux underpinnings, anyway. This means it should not be too difficult for Chrome OS to switch platforms and perhaps run its system on top of Android. The upcoming Android 4.2 multi-user support will make the case for convergence even stronger, as multiple users are usually an essential feature in desktop OSes.

Of course, there’s the concern that putting everything in the cloud could be limiting for many reasons. First, you will need a fast Internet connection in order for things to be buttery smooth. Then there are the security concerns — what if someone gains access to your data?

In an article at Phone Arena earlier this year, it was argued that convergence would be one of three things, or a combination thereof: Chrome OS running on top of Android (possible through Chrome for Android), Android apps running on the Chrome browser, and the Google Play Store and Chrome Store merging together to offer apps side-by-side.

Whichever it is, this could be an interesting evolution in the desktop computer industry. Chrome OS and Android might eventually be the true successor to the Windows PC, in terms of mass-market desktop devices.

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