Touchscreen Chromebook: Will It Kill Surface Tablet?

By Khurram Aziz | Nov 28, 2012 10:12 AM EST

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Reports are surfacing on the Internet that Google could be ready to create an alternative to its own Android-run touchscreen devices with a toucschreen Chromebook.

Taiwanese news outlet China Times says that Taiwan-based Compal will manufacture an initial 20 million units of a 12.85 inch Chromebook with a touchscreen, mirroring Microsoft's recent release of its Surface tablet.

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Google initially created its Chrome OS, which incorporates large parts of the Chrome browser, for its stripped down laptop computers known as Chromebooks.

The devices feature a wide range of preinstalled, cloud-based Google services and products, including Google Docs and Google Calendar and have been built by Google's partner vendors including Samsung and Asus.

These companies have been pushing Chromebooks as Internet-connected devices that can be cheaper, faster and more nimble than traditional laptops and notebooks, allowing users to do their work online, placing less hardware demand on the machines themselves.

However, Chromebooks have been anything but a hit with consumers. In May, the New York Times reported that, "Chromebook sales are so small that NPD Group, a research firm that tracks sales numbers for electronics, declined to disclose them."

"Stephen Baker, an analyst with NPD, said retail distribution for these notebooks is poor, and the bigger PC manufacturers like Dell and Hewlett-Packard are not making them," added the news site.

But Google is not giving up. In September, Google began renting the Chromebook to business users starting at $30 per month on a no-contract basis to try to grow its user base and show how the computers can add flexibility to workers' IT solutions at low cost. The company has also been promoting Chromebooks to schools throughout the US with hundreds of schools in 41 of the 52 states providing the devices for their students.

If the company does decide to release a touchscreen version of the tablet, it will be merging the productivity of Chrome's cloud-based OS with the portability of Android - creating a hybrid device similar to Microsoft's Surface tablet.

The Surface runs Windows Phone 8, which is designed run seamlessly alongside its Windows 8 desktop OS and was created, unlike Android or Apple's iOS, with productivity in mind.

China Times reports that the new touchscreen Chromebook could be released by the end of 2012. 

Microsoft's Surface has been out since October. The companies CEO Steve Ballmer said in a recent interview that sales of the device have so-far been "modest". 

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