Tag Archives: netbook
BNET’s Erik Sherman was doing some snooping in the U.S. Patent and Trademark database and came across something interesting: Google has trademarked the term “Speedbook”. Under the category labeled Goods and Services for the filing, it states “computer hardware”.
BNET is a tech business blog owned by CBS.
The trademark was filed on February 13, 2010. If you want to, go to the trademark database yourself and put in the term; it’s the first result in the search. A Chinese company held the trademark briefly in 2009 for a period of ten months.
I’m not sure what Google’s plan would be for this, perhaps considering labeling Chrome OS devices under a different classification than a netbook or laptop. Of course, back in February the Nexus One was only a month old; it’s possible that at the time Google was planning on releasing their own line of hardware.
At this point, hardware partners such as HTC and Acer are rumored to be first to market with Chrome OS devices. HTC is expected to launch a tablet in November. Acer has a spec netbook they are currently testing that could arrive as soon as the Chrome Web Store, a directory filled with applications specifically for Chrome, is launched.
Recently, DownloadSquad deftly discovered that the Chromium repository referenced three manufacturers and their private hardware builds – from Acer, HP and Dell. While the first two companies were already on the list of known partners with Google on the project, Dell was left out for some reason.
However, the Dell Linux team has periodically been releasing updated builds of Chromium OS, announcing this fact in the Chromium discussion board. It is hard to speculate at this point, but one must start to wonder if the three hardware manufacturers plan on announcing releases of their Chrome OS products at the same time. Whatever the case may be, we know to expect any release information to come directly from these manufacturers at some point in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The releases that have been put out by Dell have been aimed at their Mini series of netbooks, so it’s easy to wonder whether they will be launching a Chrome OS product that is a 10″ netbook.
It is really hard to say at this point since we have seen such a precipitous decline in the popularity of netbooks since the arrival of Apple’s tablet, so it would most likely do Dell and the other two companies well to find some middle ground on a netbook/laptop hybrid that encompasses an innovative form factor paired with performance specs to wow enthusiasts, all at a competitive price.
Sounds like a tall order. No wonder Google is letting the manufacturers do the talking on this one.
The idea of Chromoting as a way to bridge the gap between the web-enabled environments of the future over to the old model of installed applications on Windows, Mac and Linux seems to fit with the overall theme of Chrome OS. That theme is to get away from natively installed applications, though many of us still will rely on these “legacy” apps to some degree.
In the smartphone realm, the use of remote desktop is possible to go into our computer at home or at work to do things. Chromoting will be no different than that, installed as an extension on a Chrome OS device with another application on whatever other machine you need to remote into.
As cloud computing in ramps up from an operating system standpoint, there is going to be some software that simply will not be available in the cloud. Although it is true when Google says that most major applications are coming out today arrive web-based, there are still some resource-heavy tasks that require a traditional computer. Chromoting thus offers power users the ability to possibly use virtualization on servers to harness both Chrome OS and whatever applications they may need directly through the cloud.
I can see a variety of uses for Chromoting, and not just as a stopgap solution for legacy purposes but also as a path to allow Chrome OS to act as a window to more process-intensive computing capabilities. One would not only be able to use it to access powerful software tools on a thin client Chrome OS device, but the enterprise would benefit as well. I could see IT support analysts, salespeople and health professionals utilizing Chromoting on a tablet or netbook to access resources in a safe and controlled way that perhaps other devices would be unable to.
What other intriguing purposes could Chromoting provide for that I have missed?
The recent announcement from Google’s Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering that the Nexus One will slowly migrate to retail outlets still shows us that they are not afraid to take risks in market disruption. It was a test worth watching: could Google single-handedly upend the traditional mobile phone market by selling phones through their own channels? Initial complaints with the web store were that when problems arose with the Nexus One, there was no real way to get customer support on the phone. This coupled with low sales numbers made it really hard to expect this model to work on a mass-market scale.
But there is a unique twist to all of this and one that bodes well for future hardware that runs on Google’s operating systems. Instead of having an online store, the idea is to replace that with a showcase-type web portal where people can get a handle on the different devices that run Android. In the future, that will also include devices that run Chrome OS whether they may be netbooks, smartbooks or tablets.
But a showcase can only display pictures, videos and specifications. What is really needed are physical stores.
Let’s not forget that a major engine of growth for Apple in the past decade has been their entrance into the retail market with their own stores. Even Microsoft now has their own retail shops in some test markets. The reality is that people who are early adopters in technology (like the Nexus One) don’t need to go to a traditional store to check out gadgets, but a large majority of people want to be able to see, touch and interact with a device before they buy it.
With Google, there are already so many Android smartphones available from a large swath of companies that it makes sense to have a showcase, quite possibly with their own branded locations. Eventually they will also have Chrome OS devices on display as well and at the same time will need to compete with Apple and Microsoft in this space, who are already ahead of them in this regard.
Venturebeat is reporting that Acer will show off one, or maybe even several Chrome OS-equipped devices at Computex in June. We have been reporting this for some time that a unknown Taiwan-based manufacturer would be doing this, and Venturebeat seems to substantiate this somewhat.
The fact that they are reporting this information from “multiple sources” suggests this is more than just a rumor. I will be at Computex during the first week of June and will be reporting back all news available about anything related to Chrome OS. Since Computex is one of the largest computer shows in the world and is in the center of the computer manufacturing industry, it makes sense that we would see some concrete devices at this show.
Along with some improvements to Translate and Incognito modes, the Chrome 5 Dev update also changes the way that the bookmark manager is run. That’s because instead of it running in a windows as it has done traditionally, the Chromium folks have decided to make it run in a tab of its own. This is a good idea for several reasons, but here is a screenshot to explain what I mean because it does look a bit different:
Seems like an intuitive feature, and with the impending release of Chrome OS on has to think that Google wants to eliminate any sort of windowing system that they can and keep tasks strictly in tabs. This is especially true for certain platforms like tablets, but it makes me wonder if they will eventually move things like the Task Manager into a tab as well.
I would assume that is the plan, since the whole idea of Chrome OS is to create a totally different type of operating system. That means creating something that is probably going to be based solely on tabs. Of course, I could be wrong but I think that in order for Google to differentiate themselves from other tablet/netbook systems, that is the path which they will take.
Seeing something like this further proves that. We will see more of this in the development version of Chrome browser as time goes on, because it’s the easiest way to get UI feedback for the time being.
If you’re interested in getting the dev channel for Chrome 5, go here.
Kyocera has announced that they will release an Android phone called the Zio M6000 that will cost only $169 upfront, with CDMA technology. This is pretty affordable for those who want to get an Android phone, and since new ones are seemingly arriving every day it seems like buying an unsubsidized on would be the best way to go. Plus, it looks like although the Zio will come with Android 1.6, it will be user upgradeable to 2.1. Check out this video:
While a service provider for this phone hasn’t been announced yet, ARMdevices has said that Kyocera traditionally has been a manufacturer for pre-paid mobile services, which would include companies such as Virgin Mobile, Cricket, Boost Mobile and MetroPCS as possible suitors.
If this is indeed a prepaid phone, it would be a great deal. And it also means that the hardware for Android is becoming cheaper. Take a look at the specifications for the Zio M6000:
3.5″ 800×480 touch screen
600 Mhz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor
3G (CDMA for now), WiFi and stereo Bluetooth
Android 1.6 but it will be user-upgradeable to Android 2.1
Sure, it’s not a Nexus One “superphone” but it gets the job done for the average user. Plus, in the video above by Mobileburn, they state that this is one of the lightest Android phones that they have come across.
Although I’m not sure that Google intended to have Android be released on new phones almost every week, I doubt that they are too worried about it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chrome OS fragmented in the same way, with Google releasing their own “super” hardware netbook and/or tablet with other manufacturers marketing their own lower cost versions.
We’ve already seen evidence of a $200 tablet by Freescale, and when you consider that Chrome OS will not charge a license fee for its platform I would expect to see devices from manufacturers other than Google releasing gadgets on the cheap, with Google branding their own hardware and commanding Apple-like margins because of their brand value.
Anyways, expect to see the Zio M6000 in the second quarter if you’re looking for a smartphone without a contract.
Gizmodo is reporting today that the Nexus One, released in early January as Google’s flagship Android smartphone product has had very poor sales numbers when compared to its competitors. Counting the seventy-four days since the Nexus One has been released, and then comparing the Droid and iPhone the numbers are paltry for Google. While the iPhone and Motorola Droid tallied a million and 1.05 million respectively, the Nexus One has only shipped 135,000 phones.At that number, the highly touted iPad tablet already has more pre-orders than Google’s official phone has sold.
But let’s go back to highly touted. Although the tablet from Apple was never really a for sure thing, there were plenty of news stories about it long before it was unveiled, one of the biggest was the fact that Apple already owned the domain name for iSlate – the supposed name for the device at the time. So what about the publicity for the Nexus One? Pretty slim, and it almost seemed like and afterthought once Motorola hit it big with the Droid that Google felt they almost had to release their own phone.
On the subject of Motorola, keep in mind that the marketing campaign for the Droid was in excess of $100 million dollars. There wasn’t a time you could turn on the TV and hear a robot saying “Droid” in the commercial blitz that commenced at the phone’s launch. By contrast, I’ve never seen a Nexus One commercial – the only ads that I have seen are on Google pages and some ads sprinkled here and there on the internet.
Just because the numbers are not that good for Google doesn’t mean that they haven’t learned a lot from this exercise. Remember, this was the first actual product that Google has released. And they decided to do it differently than any other mobile phone manufacturer on the market by selling it themselves. Even though in reality it was made by HTC, it has the Google brand on it.
Now they will sell the Nexus One for AT&T, competing directly with Apple – but you have to pay the full $529 for the privilege.
When it comes time for Google to sell their own computing device, what path will they take? I have a feeling that they will sell one themselves, but they may opt to also get the backing of a large manufacturer as well for mass marketing purposes. Remember, Acer as of late has been doing a lot of posturing about being the first to market with a Chrome OS netbook, that they will sell millions of them this year and so on.
Whatever the choice may be, it’s clear that the Nexus One was a trial run that required very little marketing expense for the company, which is where things could have got expensive. After all, it seems as if HTC is rolling out new phones all the time anyway, why not help Google out since incidentally, the search engine giant lent a hand with the G1 smartphone?
And don’t forget, the Nexus One has received favorable reviews, some calling it the best Android phone yet – even Gizmodo. Google doesn’t care about popularity for its branded devices yet; it’s more concerned with providing the best user experience possible.
Wondering when you can get your hands on a Chrome-powered machine? Expect it sometime in the latter half of the year, just as what Google established as a timeline last year. That’s because the Middle East tech blog T-Break Tech is reporting that CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit that Chrome OS is still on track for that timetable and that big news will be coming later on this year.
It’s very possible that we have not learned about all of the details about Chrome OS yet.For example, not long after Apple showed off their iPad tablet for the first time, Google quietly slipped some videos of a Chrome OS prototype tablet. There were also some interesting user interfeace designs accompanying the videos. It’s not a far stretch to think that Google plans on offering several varieties of devices in order to filled the segment of gadgets that fit between a smartphone and a a laptop.
That could mean a smartbook, tablet or something else that does not even have a label yet. For example, check out this patent design from Qualcomm. It’s a tablet-netbook-smartphone product that folds and bends depending on how you want to use it.
The reality is that instead of just having one computing machine, many users may adopt a liking to several different ones depending on where they are. For example, there could be a smartbook/phone for being on the go, a netbook for the desk at home and a tablet in the living room. Not to mention your Chrome OS business machine that expected in 2011. All of these devices would be able to access the same data and preferences as needed, or could be configured differently to serve their own purpose.
Regardless, I expect something interesting coming soon.
Owing to the notion that a Chrome OS netbook will require specialized hardware from computer manufacturers, Bob O’Donnell of IDC believes that such a device will actually be just as expensive as netbooks that run on Windows. O’Donnell, who is vice president of clients and displays, seems to take a view that perhaps the technology is not quite ready for public consumption.
“PC OEMs say the hardware requirements—still under NDA–will make the systems actually more expensive than a Windows device, yet they don’t have anywhere near the applications support,” O’Donnell said. He was talking up this point while at Directions 2010, which is an economic conference that is held in Reno, Nevada. ”Clamshell systems need Windows or Mac OS because if a system looks like a notebook people want it to act like one,” he said.
IDC does a lot of research, and they know what they are talking about. However, we have already seen devices that are running Chrome OS that don’t cost that much – the Freescale 7″ tablet that was shown off a few weeks ago is expected to go for only $200. And a quick look at the Chromium site shows that manufacturers and developers have successfully tested a Asus Eee PC 1005HA, which retails for around $300.
Now, it is possible that in order to offer users the best user experience possible Google is making some heavy handed demands for these devices to be able to quickly boot and get users where they need to be – right on the web. Since the experience is so important, I would not be surprised by that. But the reality is that they are going to need to balance this with a price point that makes it possible to compete in a totally new class of cheap and lightweight computing device.
Even Chrome OS Engineering Director Matthew Papakipos said in an interview last November that the goal of the operating system was going to be for something cheaper than traditional netbook fare.
It certainly explains why we are only seeing devices from manufacturers with Android on them, because perhaps the right mix of hardware and software just has not been pinpointed just yet.
Computerworld is reporting that Computex, held the first week of June in Taipei, will have over fifty different devices on display that run on the ARM architecture. ARM is a company based in Cambridge, U.K. that develops and licenses their processor technology to a wide array of manufacturers. You can find ARM chips in your smartphone, and the soon to be released iPad tablet that has been of keen interest in the tech world has an ARM chip in it customized by Apple.
This wouldn’t be news for a mobile phone expo. But Computex is the second largest computer manufacturer conference. Because the chips require less power and produce a lower amount of heat than x86 processors, this technology will become prevalent in the netbook, tablet and smartbook market over the next few years. Many of these gadgets will be offered by wireless companies offering data services bundled together in the second half of this year.
Of particular interest of course is the fact that Chrome OS machines will most likely run on ARM chips. There already has been a successful prototype shown at the CeBIT conference not too long ago, and I would expect to see a good amount of machines running Chrome OS specifically when Computex rolls around. Right now many of these tablets and smaller computers are being shown running Android, however I am not quite convinced that operating system is the best choice for theses machine but instead simply a placeholder as Chrome OS is put through its paces.
It hasn’t been surprising that there aren’t too many Chrome OS products on display at Germany’s CeBIT conference, which is the largest computer manufacturer meet in the world. While I had heard rumors of Chrome OS ARM devices popping up there, nothing of interest has shown up yet. The best bet is that the largely Taiwanese manufactures of netbooks such as Acer, Asus and MSI are planning to reveal some interesting things on their home turf at Taipei’s Computex, set for the first week of June.
So while we sit through this lull before the exciting developments come to fruition, there are some really cheap gadgets that are coming out of CeBIT. And both of these prototypes could possibly be loaded with Chrome OS. It’s hard to tell because the Chromium projects site doesn’t offer me too much information on minimum requirements.
The first is a tablet, set at a price point of $100. It’s the 7″ Hivision Speedpad and it comes with a ARM 11 chip by Samsung, 2GB of storage and 256 MB of RAM. Did I mention it’s loaded with Android? Based on these specs, it may be difficult to run Chrome OS on this machine, but with ever falling component prices it may not be a far flung reality:
And then there’s the $85 netbook, or perhaps best described as “mini-netbook”. Made be Coby, its dubbed the NBPC722. It has a Marvell ARM, has a 7″ display and is running Windows CE. I couldn’t get any info as of yet on storage or memory, but I’m betting because it’s running Windows CE, these specs are pretty dimunitive:
Conclusion? Expect to see more devices like this coming in the next few months. While these two are running operating systems befit for a mobile phone or the distant past, I see them simply as placeholders for a time that will soon come where we see a browser-based OS being the standard for these devices. This is because that is the core function these products will provide for users.
What would you do with one of these?