When Google first briefed the media last November on its plans to help spawn a new generation of Chrome OS-powered netbooks, the company said the first set of devices would be released this fall.
Despite some analyst’s skepticism that the effort is on track, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), as recently as last week, said it expects Chrome OS netbooksto be available later this year.
But now a report has surfaced that the first Chrome OS hardware to hit the market will be a tablet instead of a netbook.
On Wednesday, Download Squad, reported that Google will be partnering with HTC (which also built the Nexus One, EVO 4G, and Droid Incredible Android phones) to build the tablet, which will be distributed by Verizon starting Nov. 26.
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The blogcited an unnamed source for its information and had scant details on what the device’s specifications might be other than the author’s note that he wouldn’t be surprised if it used Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform, with a 10-inch screen and a front-facing camera for video conferencing.
Why not Android?
But while the Chrome OS tablet story has already been picked up by numerous other media outlets, at least one analyst is very skeptical the tablet is in the works for this year.
“We don’t have any indication that Chrome OS is tuned for a touch input experience,” Ben Bajarin, analyst with Creative Strategies, told InternetNews.com. “Will there be tablets based on the Chrome OS? Sure, it’s possible down the road. But doing it this year doesn’t fit with what Google’s been communicating, which is that they’ve been very clear that Android is optimized for touch.”
While Android has been primarily used in smartphones, Dell’s new Streak tabletis based on Android.
Bajarin also said with the iPad’s momentum and a raft of Windows 7-based tablet devices in the works, Google and Verizon would have a tough time getting buyers excited about a Chrome OS-based tablet. In a recent roundup, the Technologizer blog listed 32 iPad alternative tablet devices.
“Android is so much mature while I would say Chrome OS is swimming against the stream for credibility because it’s so new,” said Bajarin. “Right now Chrome OS has no momentum and there isn’t a lot of evidence that I’m aware of that it has any product wins at this point,” he said, noting that few, if any, hardware makers have publicly stated Chrome OS is on their product road map.
As Download Squad itself noted, reports of Chrome OS devices reportedly in the works haven’t panned out so far.
“We previously reported that Acer was planning to launch Chrome OS devices in June. That didn’t end up happening, but further reports pointed to Acer readying Chrome OS tablets,” the blog said.
Google said it doesn’t comment on “rumor and speculation” in response to a request to comment on the Chrome OS tablet report.
David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.