With Google readying its own Nexus Chromebook, will it marry Chrome OS to Android?

With Google readying its own Nexus Chromebook, will it marry Chrome OS to Android?

Summary: A report from Taiwan states that Google is working on its own house-brand Nexus Chromebook with a touch screen. This, in turn, suggests that it might run a mixture of Android and Chrome OS.

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The next Chromebook might just combine Android and Chrome to make a truly effective tablet/desktop operating system.

The China Commercial Times (Chinese language link) reports that Google has placed hardware orders with Taiwanese manufacturers Compal Electronics and Wintek to produce a Chromebook with a 12.85-inch touch display. Could this be the start of Google merging Android and Chrome OS?

Chromebooks are lightweight laptop and desktop devices that use the Chrome Web browser for their primary interface, with Linux on the back end. There's really no reason why they couldn't use Android to support the Chrome interface. Indeed, Chrome is now the default Web browser for Android 4.x and higher.

While Chromebooks don't get as many headlines as Microsoft Surface and Apple iPads, the devices are quite popular. For example, Samsung's ARM-powered Chromebook  is Amazon's top-selling laptop computer, as of November 27th. At the same time, Android now owns 72% of the entire mobile devices market--not just smartphones.

Review: The ARM-powered Samsung Chromebook

What would you get if you put these Android and Chrome OS together in a touch-enabled laptop? You might well get Windows' true desktop successor.

Think about it. Chromebook and Android smartphones and tablets are taking off. Microsoft's Surface marriage of the tablet and desktop is on the rocks. Pure PC sales, of course, continue to decline.

The Chromebook 2012 Gallery

Microsoft's reaction to its falling market share--and certainly its faltering market dominance--has been to try to follow Apple's path in creating a closed hardware/software ecosystem with Windows 8 and RT. Apple, with its charisma and dedicated fan base (and I do mean that in a nice way), has managed to get away with it. Microsoft, not so much. Google is offering a much more open path for both developers and users, on both Android and Chrome, that's clearly gaining in popularity. Wouldn't a combination Chrome/Android Linux desktop prove a winner?

This isn't a difficult hurdle. Android, with version 4.2, supports multiple users. Previously, this was always a weak point for business desktops. The actual merger of Android and Chrome wouldn't technically be difficult to do. Both are Linux-based system that use Webkit for Web browsing.

Leaving aside the technical aspects, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said as far back as November 2009 that, "Android and Chrome will likely converge over time." That time may well be sometime in 2013.

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Topics: Linux, Android, Google, Laptops, Tablets, PCs

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48 comments
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  • With Google readying its own Nexus Chromebook, will it marry Chrome OS to A

    Chrome OS with Android, maybe.
    daikon
    • "Marry"?? LOL

      ChromeOS will be DITCHED for an obviously much richer and more capable Android. HTML5 as a replacement for rich desktop platform is a pipe dream. Time to wake up and smell the reality.
      LBiege
    • I am not sure about the Android bit.

      Google has shown videos of a touch interface for ChromeOS a while back. Also Google never releases new software without first pre-releasing the software. I think this is most likely a testing device to be issued to test out a touch version of Chromebooks (like the CR-48 was) rather than a production touch laptop.

      There is also no sense in adding Android to ChromeOS unless Android can be made to work in the cloud, because that would remove Chromebooks advantage over other available OSes is its zero maintenance, stateless (ie. no data, settings or configuration stored locally), and zero touch administration features which are its main advantages. If you want Android local apps, then it would be better to install a Chrome browser on an Android device, than vice versa.
      Mah
  • A terrible proposition for consumers

    Built on stolen IP, that mines your own PI for Google's gain and is so insecure and malware laden that it gives thieves easy access to the rest of your personal information.

    You can't polish a turd SJVN
    hubivedder
    • But you can.....

      Roll it in glitter. q.v. Windows 8
      Alan Smithie
      • You do realize

        That Chromebook is crapware with a premium price ... even at the lowest price.

        You can buy better hardware for the same price and get a WORKING OS (pick whatever you like) that can do a million times more without signing a contract that allows for data mining.
        wackoae
      • Sorry ... wrong post.

        The post above was supposed to be a few post lower.

        ZDNet needs to bring back edit.
        wackoae
    • @hubivedder: "Built on stolen IP"

      could you document what you are talking about?
      binos
    • You CAN polish a turd

      Mythbusters proved it a couple seasons ago.
      Robert Kent
  • And dual-boot with touch-enabled Ubuntu 14.04

    Come late April, 2014.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Chromebooks are taking off.

    No they're really not. The numbers are tiny.

    If you hate Microsoft turning Windows into a touch based system, why would Chromebooks (designed for laptops too) be any better?
    bradavon
    • Learn to read.

      Chrome book BESTLELLING on Amazon.

      Yes I do know that Amazon is not the biggest reselling channel but still
      przemoli
      • Best selling .... as in paid to be in the list

        The SALES numbers don't show a "best seller" at any point in history. With less than 20K Chromebooks manufactured .... you have to be a moron to believe that it is a "best seller"

        And then you have the high rate of returns ... when people realize that the cheap crap they got was really crap.
        wackoae
        • Can't pay Best Buy

          To say they are sold out. Stopped to look at one and the nearby rep told me they had both sold out in the first hour of black Friday.
          storm14k
          • Maybe,

            they just ordered 2, you know, like Black Friday ads. Once those two sold after sitting on the warehouse shelf for 6 months, Best Buy just didn't bother to order any more, but the item is still in the database 'cause no one took it out.
            Cynical99
          • Best Buy sold out

            And how many did they have? One? Ten? A hundred? And who is to say that most of those people who bought one thought they were getting a full-featured laptop?

            I showed up a Best Buy to get a TV they had advertised and found that they had none in stock before the door even opened.

            Saying that one Best Buy store sold out really tells us nothing, and cannot be used as an indicator that the Chromebook is a "best seller."

            SIDE ISSUE: The voting on these replies was working for awhile but now does not work at all. I tried three different browsers and everytime I try to vote I get an "There was a error. Please try again," message. No matter how many time I try. Why can't ZD get this right? And while I'm wishing, I would love to see a "Agree/Disagree/Flag" option. Make more sense than "Vote/Flag."

            Have a nice day,

            Doc
            Doc.Savage
          • The Samsung Chromebooks were the all time bestseller on Amazon.

            In other words they were the best selling computer ever sold on Amazon of all time, despite selling out. That's got to tell you something.
            Mah
    • RE: Chromebooks are taking off.

      Chromebooks would be better than touchscreen-based Windows because of their thin-client Linux platform. The best way to describe them would be that they are a 21st-century dumb terminal (if you're too young to remember what that is, you shouldn't be a member of this site). Also, Microsoft's problem is that they try to be a "one size fits all" platform, which, is not how a computer is designed. Not everyone needs the same hardware specs. Shopping for a computer should be like shopping for a car. You need to know how much of everything you need, and you need to know what you will use it for. Putting Windows on a thin-client device such as a tablet or netbook is a mistake because it consumes too many resources, but Microsoft is too pig-headed-ly concerned about its market share to consider what people will do with their hardware. It takes 10 seconds to boot a custom version of Linux that is made for the hardware it's installed on, but 10 minutes (or more depending on how cluttered the hard drive is) to boot Windows on that same computer.

      Long story short, if Microsoft wants to run their software on thin client hardware, they need to start pushing the Windows Embedded platform more instead of the traditional Windows operating system.
      Richard Estes
  • @SJVN

    didn't you bash Microsoft for wielding Touch (Start Screen)/Modern UI with Desktop in Windows 8? so why are saying it would be nice to have a touch (android) with web browser OS?
    Ram U
  • Since Chrome OS is tons of addition to Chrome web browser.

    Recent addition of Chrome to Android is such move for merging.

    However I do thing that its more probable of Android and Chrome OS developing separately.
    Android getting more features known from "desktop" OSes same as Chrome OS (but it will get them into chrome).

    "Merging" will probably mean putting Chrome in Android and plugging any features into Android features. Core of OS will be pure Android.
    przemoli