Google’s Android mobile OS is touch from the bottom up. So wouldn’t you expect Google’s ChromeOS to be touchable as well?

ChromeOS, which runs mini laptops from Acer, Asus, and Samsung among other partners, may soon follow Windows 8 in making touch a core part of the laptop user experience. According to a report from Taiwan, Google is testing the waters with a small run of touch-compatible Chromebooks, to be released under Google’s own Nexus brand.

According to the report, Compal will be providing components for 20 million units, set to start shipping late this year. That’s a large number for a device with limited commercial success so far — Google has not released sales figures for any generation of Chromebook yet.

Chromebooks, which you can buy from Google directly as well as from partners such as Best Buy, feature an operating system based on the Chrome browser. With minimal local storage and intelligence, the laptops — netbooks, really — are essentially cloud devices, booting in seconds, needing little or no configuration, and plugging users directly into the Google ecosystem of search, docs, and other tools, plus anything else online. They’re cheap as well, priced at between $200 and $500, or leasable, starting at $30/month.

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Adding touch may be a sign that Google plans to launch a convertible device similar to Lenovo’s Windows 8 devices where the screen flips, rotates, or even detaches from the keyboard. Or Google may simply be experimenting with the existing clamshell devices. Either way, price will go up as component costs for touchscreens get added into the mix.

Any device launch is not likely until sometime well into 2013.

Hat tip: PCmag

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