No Chrome OS Netbooks For Christmas, says Google

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Chrome OS has been delayed said Google CEO Eric Schmidt, though no one at Google or the computer makers will say why

Google’s Chrome OS operating system launch has been delayed and the platform will not be available to launch on netbooks for at least the “next few months”.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed as much to reporters in a Q&A session at the Web 2.0 Summit, adding that the platform continues to be targeted for devices with a keyboard. Though he did not provide a reason for the delay, he certainly shredded the rumour that there would be netbooks based on Chrome OS launching this month.

No Netbook Launches Planned

Chrome OS is a web operating system that Google is building to run on netbooks as an alternative to computers running traditional operating systems, such as Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac. Schmidt reaffirmed that Chrome OS will support applications running in Google’s Chrome web browser, which now has more than 70 million users.

Google released Chrome OS to open source one year ago yesterday, claiming that netbooks from partners including Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Toshiba would launch by November or December 2010.

That is not happening even though as recently as September spokespeople for Google told eWEEK Chrome OS remained on track. Now a Google spokesperson said the company will provide an update later this year.

“We are very happy with the progress of Google Chrome OS and we’ll have more details to share later this year,” the spokesperson told eWEEK.

eWEEK asked several computer makers about their plans for Chrome OS netbooks. HP declined to discuss future products and Acer said there are “no imminent plans to launch Chrome OS netbooks”. Dell said it had no updates.

And so the guessing game begins.

Why the delay?

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes surmised Google is recalibrating its Chrome OS strategy due to the tablet phenomenon Apple created with its iPad launch in April. Combine that with Android’s surge in the smartphone market, which has spilled over into the tablet sector with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and a rethinking of Chrome OS might be inevitable.

While there were certainly plenty of Windows-based netbooks and laptop computers at the Web 2.0 Summit, there was a shocking number of iPad and Galaxy Tab users among the attendees.

The iPad is its own success story, selling 4.19 million units in the last quarter, while IMS Research said the Galaxy Tab will lead Android to garner 15 percent of the tablet market next year. That means fewer people buying netbooks and laptops and more people buying tablets, said IDC analyst Al Hilwa.

“Something happened on the way to the birth of Chrome OS – and it is called Android,” Hilwa said. “Android has taught Google that maybe the cloud is not everything and there are ways to change the OS market dynamics without a pure cloud approach.”

He added that Chrome OS may evolve but perhaps as a testbed of ideas that might make their way in Google Apps or Android.

“I believe an incremental approach which integrates mobile devices with cloud capabilities is more likely to succeed in the long run.”

In the short term, there will be no Chrome OS tablets for Christmas – but there will be plenty of tablets to choose from, manufactured by Apple, Samsung, Archos, ViewSonic and others.

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