Google seems to be planning an expansion of its line of laptops running the Chrome operating system, according to people close to the matter. Specifically, the company has developed the first Chromebooks to feature touchscreen displays which will be released later this year.
While some have pointed out that adding touch to Chrome-powered laptops could lead to Google competing against its own Android tablets, this seems to be an unlikely scenario as the two operating systems are fairly different. However, even if it does occur, Google said it is fine with having the two in direct competition since they'll both boost the use of its services.
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It's currently unknown who Google has partnered with to create the new touchscreen Chromebooks, but previous Chromebook manufacturers include Samsung and Acer.
Finding a hardware partner isn't the issue, though. Rather, Google needs to convince programmers to write compatible applications for its touchscreen Chrome devices. Not only would these apps have to support touch, they would also have to be cloud- based like the rest of the Chrome OS' core applications.
Meanwhile, Chrome has the bigger problem of competing with Microsoft in one of its strongest markets. Indeed, the number of Chrome laptops sold in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2012 was only 100,000, while also being the highest sales figure for the platform to date. Considering the fact that many Windows 8 laptops also include touch capabilities, it's going to be hard to dissuade consumers from Windows' massive library of programs.
That said, the success of tablets over the last few years has demonstrated a desire for extremely portable, cheap, basic computing — a description that fits at least the most recent batch of Chromebooks exactly. Meanwhile, some analysts have stated that touch has become more or less a necessity for any computing product so Google is making the right move either way.
Edited by Brooke Neuman