Google and its hardware partners are gearing up to launch the first generation of Chrome OS smartbooks this month, according to a report by news site Digitimes. The term “smartbook” is key when describing these Chrome OS devices, because they will likely run smartphone CPUs instead of typical laptop or netbook chips.
After Google launched its mobile operating system, Android, it put out a phone of its own, the Nexus One, as a model for other manufacturers to follow. It may be planning to repeat that strategy now by first launching its own Chrome OS smartbook, which will then be followed up by entries from HP and Acer. Digitimes credits “sources from component players” — the companies who build the individual parts for products — with the information.
The site says that Google’s Chrome OS device will be manufactured by Taiwanese firm Inventec and that initial shipments will be around 60,000 to 70,000 units. Google won’t be selling the device through stores, so it’s likely going to be something you purchase online, like the Nexus One.
Digitimes says that Google’s Chrome OS smartbook will likely be based on an ARM mobile processor. Chrome OS is a web-focused operating system designed for netbooks, but Google has previously mentioned the possibility of bringing it to other device types like smartbooks and tablets.
After Google launches its Chrome OS device, HP and Acer will announce their entries, which will be manufactured by Quanta Computer. Asus is apparently still “observing the market.” There’s no word on potential pricing yet, but we can expect the first generation of Chrome OS devices to be somewhere between $200 and $400. Being free is a major benefit of the OS, so it wouldn’t make sense to price them higher than netbooks.
Google has long said that Chrome OS would likely be ready by the end of this year, so a product launch this month certainly isn’t out of the question. Earlier this year, we reported that Acer was gearing up to launch Chrome OS devices in June. While that report was a bit premature, our sources did manage to confirm that Asus Chrome OS machines existed — the company was just waiting for the OS to mature before it launched.