Google's source code indicates that the company is working on a tablet version of the Chrome OS and such a move could confuse the Android army.
CNET News' Stephen Shankland dives into the code to find that the Chrome OS is including a touch interface, virtual keyboard and revamped tab page among other goodies.
As Shankland noted, the Chrome OS move isn't all that surprising. After all, Google mocked up a tablet Chrome OS last year.
But what's an Android tablet maker---Samsung, HTC, Motorola etc.---to make of this? Let's ponder the options. A tablet maker today has the following tablet options:
- Android 2.2 on a tablet. Think Samsung Galaxy Tab (the first version).
- Honeycomb Android 3.0. Think Motorola Xoom.
And going forward we can add the Chrome OS to the mix.
Simply put, Google will quickly be catching up to Microsoft when it comes to multiple OS flavors.
At some point, Google will have to define its tablet OS strategy, show how the Chrome OS and Honeycomb go together (or merge) and allay concerns from partners.
The big unknown is whether consumers will notice the OS moving parts and let them influence their buying decisions. Perhaps consumers won't care about the operating system, but Apple's iPad has shown that the OS matters.
Add it up and the Chrome OS vs. Honeycomb adds another layer of uncertainty to the Android tablet equation. At low prices---$200 to $300---this potential fragmentation doesn't matter. At higher price points, you want a more future proof tablet.