) is rumored to be developing a new touch-enabled Chromebook.
, the new 12.85-inch device will be manufactured by Taiwan-based
Compal Electronics. Wintek will supply the touch panels for the
laptop, which could ship before the end of 2012.
No other information has been provided, but it seems likely
that this laptop would cost more than the $249 Chromebook that
Google has been heavily promoting in the United States.
Regardless, it could still prove to be the least expensive laptop
of its kind.
Windows 8 is currently available for more than a dozen
specially designed laptops that take full advantage of its touch
capabilities. Most of them are fairly expensive, retailing for
upwards of $700. Sony (NYSE:
) currently sells a 13-inch Intel (NASDAQ:
) Ultrabook with touch for $1,299.
There are a few cheaper options, of course. Asus has built an
11.6-inch laptop that retails for $499, making it the cheapest
touch screen laptop available.
Google could feasibly undercut that price by a couple hundred
dollars. But if not, the company should still be able to get away
with charging no more than $349 for a touch-enabled
It is not yet known how the existing Chromebooks will affect
the rest of the PC industry. For the past two decades, consumers
have stuck with Windows and Mac OS. Google hopes to change
Chrome OS Overhaul
If Google wants to build a touch-enabled Chromebook, it might
need to overhaul its Web-based operating system, Chrome OS.
Unlike Android, the current version of Chrome OS was not
designed with touch screens in mind. It is a light but
traditional operating system with built-in programs, such as
Gmail and the Chrome browser. Touchpad users will have no trouble
clicking on the smaller items, such as tabs and program icons.
But they could be much more difficult to click on with a finger,
as they were not designed to be touched by anything except a
This becomes instantly apparent when using the desktop mode in
) Windows 8. Users can fully navigate both modes (desktop and the
new user interface) with a touch screen. But the new UI -- once
known as Metro -- is so much more intuitive. It was tailor-made
for touch screens, tablets, hybrids and other finger-friendly
Google may have to develop a similar OS if it wants to build a
Other Challenges Ahead
While some manufacturers are content to produce a standard
touch screen laptop, many are opting to create more advanced
devices. Dell (NASDAQ:
), Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:
) are just a few of the firms developing a so-called
. These notebook/tablet hybrids allow the user to flip, twist or
remove the screen to use as a tablet.
Convertibles are much more intuitive than traditional touch
screen laptops because the keyboard can be removed or pushed out
of the way. But they are also much more expensive to design. This
could provide a new obstacle for Google, which may not be able to
build a convertible without increasing the price by a significant
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.