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Google Chrome OS tablet in repeat rumorfest

Multitouch for 'gPad'

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Rumors continue to swirl around Google's efforts to challenge the Apple iPad.

Last week, the AOL-owned Download Squad told the world that Google, Taiwanese hardware manufacturer HTC, and US wireless carrier Verizon will launch a Chrome OS tablet on November 26, and now, the Israel-based Haaretz claims that the so-called "gPad" will include multitouch technology from Israeli outfit N-trig, whose tech is currently used in Windows tablets from HP.

Haaretz says its information was delivered "via" HTC, the company that has manufactured myriad Android phones, including Google's own Nexus One.

The report takes it as fact that the Google-Verizon tablet is due for arrival in late November and that it will run Google's as-yet-unreleased Chrome OS. But it's unclear whether it has in some way corroborated the story from the Download Squad. Haaretz claims that the "gPad" is currently "in the single-prototype stage," and it says the November launch date is "subject to change."

Verizon has publicly said that it's working on a Google tablet, but it has not indicated when this is likely to arrive and it has not said what operating system it will run. It may run Android, which is slowly moving form phones onto tablets and other larger devices. Despite stories from the Download Squad and Haaretz, The Reg finds it hard to believe that any sort of Chrome OS tablet will arrive this fall. Previously, Google said that the browser-bound OS would arrive first on netbooks, and for what it's worth, there's been no indication from the Chromium OS project, the open source version of Chrome OS, that tablet support is imminent.

We do assume that the current Chromium OS represents only a portion of what we'll see when Chrome OS arrives this fall. Chances are, as the company puts out patches on the open Chromium OS code tree, it has its own tree that is hidden from the public. But the company has been quite adamant that Chrome OS netbooks will arrive before other form factors. That said, the company has mocked up ideas for Chrome OS tablets and these have been shared publicly.

Chrome OS is essentially the Chrome browser running a Goobuntu flavor of Linux, and the browser is the only local application. The platform is also designed to keep all data in the proverbial "cloud," though some local caching will be permitted. Android, by contrast, runs local applications, and it would seem to be a better fit for a world where broadband wireless net access is still far ubiquitous.

Incidentally, Microsoft led an N-Trig investment round in 2009. It's always nice when we can find even a small way to pit Microsoft and Google against each other. ®

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