Google is well-known for partnering with device makers to build Nexus-branded smartphones and tablets. It works with some of the same companies to produce Chromebooks. However, Google may be handling the hardware development for the next Chromebook on its own. A report from China Times claims that Google has contracted Taiwanese manufacturing giant Compal to build the system. Compal manufactures notebooks for numerous brands, and Google is reportedly contracting the firm directly.
Given how successfully Apple has combined hardware and software development, we shouldn't be surprised if Google pursues a similar strategy. Even Microsoft is designing its own system hardware these days. Of course, Redmond's decision to produce Surface tablets has angered some of its hardware partners. Google could also face backlash if existing Chromebook makers like Acer and Samsung feel like they're being squeezed out. Those companies make an awful lot of Android-based devices, and I'm sure Google wants them on its side.
If there is a Google-designed Chromebook in the works, perhaps it's more of an experimental product than a harbinger of a broader shift in strategy. The system will purportedly include a touchscreen, which doesn't strike me as the sort of feature that a Chromebook really needs. Google has long tried to keep its Android and Chrome operating systems separate, but touchscreen input would seem to blur the line between the two. Perhaps the growing number of convertible tablets fueled by Windows 8 has made Google reconsider the relationship between Chromebooks and Android-based tablets. Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.