Although there haven't been any announcements to corroborate the claims that Google will be unleashing a Chrome OS-based tablet in the near future, the possibility of such a device hitting store shelves is becoming increasingly likely.
Earlier this week, a mockup of how a Chrome-based tablet would work surfaced on the official Chromium blog. Although the company was quick to point out that the designs were merely a "concept UI," it was impressive. The Chrome OS tablet would boast a virtual keyboard, like Apple's iPad, as well as contextual control and multiple tabs for multitasking in a lightweight package that should satisfy those who want simple functionality, like surfing the Web, checking e-mails or editing Office documents.
Although proof-of-concept images and videos don't portend success in the real world, Google's Chrome OS could become a compelling alternative to Apple's iPad. Not only is it ideally suited for a tablet, it's backed by a company that has a proven track record of delivering services that people actually want to use.
Most importantly, it's the first Web-based OS, which makes it a far more revolutionary product than Apple's tablet. As successful as Apple's iPad might be when it's released later this year, a Chrome tablet might just be a major threat to Steve Jobs' company. Let's take a look at why:
1. It's Google
If an unknown company were developing a Web-based operating system to run on a tablet computer and compete with Apple's iPad, it might have a tough battle ahead of it. But Google is not an unknown company. The search giant knows what it takes to be successful in the tech industry. It also fully realizes what consumers are looking for in a touch device. Google is a company that should be feared.
One of the major problems with Apple's iPad is its lack of multitasking. If a user wants to work in Pages and quickly switch over to Safari to read the news, she will need to first close Pages to do so. That's a problem that Apple needs to address quickly. Assuming Chrome OS works as advertised, any Chrome OS-based machine will allow for multitasking. That's a major development that can't be overlooked when the iPad and a Chrome OS tablet are compared.
3. Web-Based Means Something
Although Apple touts its iPhone operating system as the top OS in the market for a tablet computer, a Web-based operating system wouldn't be so bad either. Chrome OS affords several luxuries, including off-site storage, availability whenever (and wherever) a Web connection is available, and much more. We also can't forget that as more software moves to the cloud, users will be looking to the Internet for a viable OS. Chrome OS can provide that. Apple's iPad software cannot.
4. Chrome OS Is Built for Lightweight Design
Chrome OS is not meant to be a competitor to Windows 7 or Mac OS X. Instead, Google's operating system is designed specifically for netbook users who require a lightweight operating system and basic functionality, like Web surfing and basic document editing. The operating system's lightweight design also makes it an ideal choice for tablet users. Google won't have to change much to get it ready for a vendor's tablet.