Concept drawing (formerly a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v)
Concept drawing (formerly a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v)

A few days ago a contact tipped me off to the possibility that Google might not just be developing an operating system for netbooks, but that the company could actually be involved in building a netbook that it would sell under the Google brand name. You know, sort of like it’s expected to do with the Google Nexus One cellphone soon.

The reasoning is pretty solid: If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. So far Google has been taking the Microsoft approach in the cellphone market with its Google Android operating system. Google makes the software and works with hardware manufacturers to make sure it can run on as many devices as possible. But that means that those hardware partners get to tweak things to their hearts’ content, and in the end the user experience may not be exactly what Google had anticipated.

And so that leads the company to try the Apple model: design the OS and the hardware to ensure seamless interaction between the two.

Google officials have already said that the company is working with hardware makers to design new devices that will run Chrome OS. They made a big deal of suggesting that the new devices would have larger keyboards and displays than current generation netbooks, to offer a better web experience. But you know what the best way to make sure that the hardware meets your vision? Build it yourself… or hire someone to build it for you.

TechCrunch apparently got the same tip that I did, and then a few more, because Michael Arrington reports that “multiple sources” confirm that Google has been “talking to at least one hardware manufacturer about building a netbook for Google directly.”

There aren’t a lot of details about the device yet. But it will reportedly offer mobile broadband capabilities and it may be bundled with a 3G data plan and sold by telecoms. It’s not due out until late 2010, and it’s possible that we could see other devices from third party companies running Chrome OS before the Google netbook actually hits the streets.

Of course, there’s still a chance that this is just a concept device, a rumor, or something else. In other words, it might never come to market. But if it does, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Microsoft model or the Apple model works better for Google. In other words, will the company have more success selling its own hardware or licensing its software to third party companies? Or will both crash and burn because people expect more from a PC operating system than a glorified web browser?

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7 replies on “Is Google building a netbook?”

  1. Actually, the Windows era will soon come to an end. Everybody now use a Browser and nobody really needs an OS. It all depends also on how fast Smartbooks come out. They seem to be taking their own sweet time. Once Smartbooks come out and test the market, and if it succeeds, we will soon see the emergence of an OS free markets

    In the late 90s, it wasn’t much Internet based. The PC was wholly the OS. Now, computers mean Internetnet and vice versa.

  2. Seriously, unless you can do something besides browse the web AND store it locally, its the biggest breach of personal security and an underpowered waste of money. If you can find the money for a netbook, you can wait just a slight bit longer and save up for a real notebook, which isn’t that much more expensive. My opinion is that the netbook was a bad idea from the start. Kind of like a glorified iphone or blackberry (the keyword there is phone).

    1. Breach of personal security?

      A good point but once upon a time people wanted
      privacy when making telephone calls.
      That is as good as gone now.

      Some, like myself, feel that even having DisQus tracking
      my every web-site visit is a serious breach of personal privacy.

    2. Umm, last time I checked, the OS was the biggest source of personal security risks. From what I can tell the stateless Chromium OS that Google is proposing is going to be a lot more secure since it should be difficult, if not impossible to get Key Loggers, tracers, and Trojans onto the computer on any sort of permanent basis.

      The other prong of personal security, which would be anonymity has been gone for a long time, and without congressional intervention to protect us from marketing companies and sleazy information firms which will sell your personal information to anyone for a buck, we aren’t going to get it back. It’s also an OS agnostic threat, so literally everyone who interfaces with the internet is threatened by it.

      As for netbooks being glorified smartphones… Well we’ll see where we are in 10 years. By then there might not be much difference between my smartphone and my desktop, not once even Intel’s mightiest processors are SOC solutions, the only real question will be power consumption. I know for a fact that for me, a netbook is an EXCELLENT solution to my mobility needs. I sure don’t need a desktop replacement since i have a perfectly viable desk top at work and home, but I do need something I can lug around everywhere else, and a netbook is the first affordable product I’ve ever seen that can really meet that need. My god man it’s not easy to right C# with my thumbs, but it is on my wife’s ASUS 1005HE.

  3. Who would have thought you could make money selling clicks on web-sites?
    Perhaps they can come up with something that is more than just a web browser.

Comments are closed.