Google has plans to sell online a netbook based on its Chrome Operating System, similar to the way it sold its Nexus One smartphone, according to Digitimes.
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.
The platform-intended initially for netbooks sans local storage-will support Web applications running in Google's Chrome Web browser. Google introduced Chrome OS last November, with a goal to have it running on netbooks by November 2010.
Digitimes said Nov. 2 that the search engine will launch a Google-branded netbook, built by Inventec, through a Webstore online instead of through traditional retailers, such as Best Buy. Shipments of this ARM-chip-powered netbook will range from 60,000 to 70,000 units.
Google declined to comment on what it deemed "rumor or speculation" from Digitimes, which added that Chrome OS netbooks from major computer makers such as Acer and Hewlett-Packard will arrive in December. Those machines would be offered from retail outlets.
The idea that Google would try to sell netbooks, presumably sight unseen or untouched, through a Webstore is a bit of a surprise after the market demise of the Nexus One smartphone.
Google began selling the Nexus One-built by HTC and running Android 2.1 (the only software Google chose to put on it)-online Jan. 5. Users could order it $529 unlocked or $179 with a two-year deal from T-Mobile.
The device didn't sell well, and Verizon Wireless and Sprint backed off plans to support it. Google shuttered that online store in May.
If people were unwilling to purchase a phone without playing with it in a Best Buy or carrier outlet, wouldn't they feel that same about buying a netbook with an unproven new operating system online?
Analysts aren't so sure.