Tablet? Netbook? Tablet-book?
As you should remember, Google recently launched a Gmail phone application that allows you to call your chat contacts (or anyone else) from within your Gmail account. I wrote yesterday about the death of the phone call and the move towards increasingly hybridized devices. Since then, I've read some interesting dissections of how Google phone relates Chrome OS.
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We haven't heard much lately about Google's next attempt at an operating system. It was initially expected to see its debut around June, but that proved to be wishful thinking. Either Google never intended to have Chrome-running netbooks out by now, or they've held them back due to recent shifts in the industry.
Tablets have overwhelmed the netbook-at least in terms of public attention. People aren't fawning over that device category anymore. This means extra work for Google, because Chrome OS was initially intended to focus on SSD-packing portable machines. That is, netbooks and CULVs.
The only issue with a Chrome OS tablet is that a ton of Android tablets are already due out in the near future. It's hard to see how Google will benefit from two operating systems focusing on the same niche in the same market. While Chrome holds a huge advantage in the portable category over an OS like Windows 7, it has much less of an advantage over Android.
One of the first rules any successful company needs to obey is to never confuse your customers. Imagine if Microsoft launched two new Windows operating systems within a year or two of each other, both aimed for the same market and both pushed and supported actively by the company. They'd be mocked by pundits and consumers alike.
And yet, now we hear talk that Google has a Chrome OS Smartbook on the way. Phandroid and TalkAndroid seem to think it will be a tablet, which gels with earlier rumors of an HTC Chrome OS slate. So, here is what we know.
1. Google has just rolled out a new Gmail calling service.
2. They've trademarked the name "Speedbook"
3. Chrome OS is launching soon-possibly by the end of this year.
4. It will launch with multitouch support.
As bizarre as it sounds, Google seems to be gearing up to push Chrome in the same form-factor as the latest generation of Android gizmos. They're also focusing heavily on browser-based phone communication. Since Chrome OS is a browser-based OS, and Google has toyed with the idea of doing an entirely data-driven "smartphone" type device in the past, they could be planning on having Chrome OS drive the next generation of mobile gadget tech forward.
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The question is, what form will that new generation take? Will Google really pit Android and Chromium against one another in the slate market? Or do they plan to market a series of multitouch capable netbook-type "smartbooks" in the near future?