Things have been so quiet on the Chrome OS front that I had nearly forgotten Google promised netbooks in time for the holidays. If reports out of Taiwan are accurate, the first models should arrive later this month.
Using the same strategy Google employed to jump-start Android with the Nexus One, the company will ship a Google-branded netbook, using an ARM-based processor and Chrome OS, later this month, DigiTimes reported. In December, Acer and HP will follow with their own Chrome OS netbooks.
These Chrome OS netbooks will hit the market just as the growth in this category is slowing, perhaps due to the Apple iPad and upcoming tablets running Android and Windows 7. But the way that Google initially described these netbooks-instant-on, always connected and with long battery life-is actually closer in concept to the iPad and MacBook Air. Perhaps that is why the DigiTimes report refers to them as smartbooks rather than netbooks.
The big difference, of course, is that Google's netbook is designed to run all software as a service through the Chrome browser, which has been coming on strong. That should appeal to heavy users of Google services such as Gmail and Google Calendar, but it will also make it difficult to deliver the app store experience that users have become accustomed to on mobile devices. Chrome OS netbooks could end up caught between Windows 7 netbooks, which can easily run full applications such as Microsoft Office 2010 and work like regular PCs, and tablets, which have a greater variety of apps and work like smartphones.
Here's some earlier coverage of Google's Chrome OS:
- Will Chrome OS netbooks really be competitive?
- Why the first Chrome netbooks may not be so revolutionary?