When Google officials released Chrome operating system to open source last November, there were a lot of unanswered questions and uncertainty around the project.
One thing Google seemed sure about was that netbooks bearing Google's emerging Web operating system wouldn't appear before November or December of 2010, timed for the holiday season.
Now VentureBeat is reporting that Acer could launch Chrome OS devices at the Computex Taipei show, which kicks off June 1.
Notice VB said "devices," so we don't know whether these will be netbooks, which Chrome OS was originally designed for, or tablet computers. That's an important distinction, which I'll discuss later.
Can this be true? The only reason I'm not calling complete BS on this is that Chrome OS is open source.
If a computer maker deemed Chrome OS suitable enough to put on its machines, then who are we to argue?
Either Chrome OS is farther along than Google led us to believe last fall, or Acer is taking a risk in trying to be first to market.
Speaking of which, what sort of device will it push first to market? If you had asked me two months ago whether or not being the first to sell Chrome OS netbooks would be a big deal, I would have said absolutely.
Lots of people are very curious about running Chrome OS machines sans local storage, and running Web apps atop the speedy Chrome browser. I anticipated Chrome OS netbooks in the $300 to $400 range to sell well.
But Apple's iPad may have altered that market strategy.
Everyone is tablet crazy right now, and it's clear that Apple's shipment of 1 million-plus tablets in less than one month has accelerated plans for Android tablets, which Verizon Wireless and Google working out as we speak.
Still, Wired noted that Acer is among the early birds building netbook for Chrome OS and plans to ship 1 million of these machines this year.
In order to meet that goal, Acer would clearly have to get said machines out the door before November or December and launching them sooner than later would be prudent.
It's not clear that people will be lining up for Chrome OS netbooks, particularly when Google does so little marketing.
Again, it's unclear what sort of devices Acer is cooking up for the Computex show. Perhaps Acer decided it needs to quickly steal some of the iPad's magic with an open-source alternative to the iPad.
About that: I'm torn about the strategy of bringing tablets based on both Chrome OS and Android to bear in the market. Seems they would cannibalize each other the same way newer Android devices such as the HTC Incredible and HTC EVO 4G are pecking away at the Nexus One.
Analysts have assured me Android is for tablets, Chrome OS is for clamshell devices, but Google has already created this Chrome OS tablet UI, so who knows what the future holds?
In any case, the alleged launch in Taipei is only two and a half weeks away and I can't wait to see if Venture Beat's thinly detailed scoop bears fruit and how it will taste.