Google's Touchscreen Chromebook − Pros and Cons

A touch-based Chromebook could make sense, but there's a lot of riding against it

By on November 26th, 2012 18:11 GMT

Google is apparently getting ready to unveil a brand new Chromebook, this one under its own brand, like it does with the Nexus series of Android tablets and phones. The big selling point of this new Chromebook is touch input.

It would still be a laptop, so it should be similar to the myriad of Windows 8-sporting ultrabooks that are coming out now, rather than a competitor to the Nexus 10.

The rumor says that a device is supposed to launch early next year with parts makers already building the touch panels for the new Chromebooks.

There are a few reasons why this might work and why it would happen now. For one, the price may finally be right. Touch panels are expensive and the Chromebook has only started selling now that it's dirt cheap, $249, €192 for the Samsung device.

Pro − the price can finally be low enough

Samsung was able to do this since it packed an ARM processor, previous versions were twice as expensive.

Adding an also expensive touchscreen to the device would have priced it far outside what the few people interested in Chromebooks were willing to pay.

But with an ARM core, a Chromebook with touch input for $400 - $500 (€308.5 - €385) could be possible, albeit not really profitable for Google.

The Nexus 10 sells for $399, €308, but the new Chromebook is supposed to sport a 12.85-inch (32.6-cm) screen which would be even more expensive than the one in the Nexus 10.

Still, it probably can be done and, at that price, a touch-enabled Chromebook would definitely be appealing.

Pro − Chrome OS already has support for touch input

Chrome OS has supported touch input, at least in an experimental form, for quite a while now. An on-screen keyboard has been available for a few years. There's even an unofficial build for the Nexus 7.

Con − it should be shipping ahead of the holiday shopping season, not after

However, there are a few things that point against Google launching such a device. First the timing, if Google was working on a touch-input Chromebook, it would want it ready for the holiday shopping season.

Launching it in January, when no one is buying devices, would lead to a big loss of potential sales. One possible explanation would be that Google wasn't able to get the device ready for a November launch, though that's what it intended.

Con − competition with Android

A second big reason against this device is, well, Android. Google is struggling to position Android as a viable platform for tablets.

It may finally have chance with the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, it would not want to spoil it by launching yet another touch device running a completely different OS, confusing people even more.

While Chrome OS and Android were put on relatively equal terms a couple of years ago, that's obviously not the case anymore.

Though, that would explain why Google would postpone the launch after the holiday season. What's more, a touch-input Chromebook would compete more with Windows 8 ultrabooks and tablet "hybrids" rather than traditional tablets like the iPad or the Nexus 10.

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