Friday, August 27, 2010

Is Google planning a Chrome netbook?

It has come to light that Google has trademarked the name "Speedbook" fuelling speculation that it may be the name of a soon-to-be-released Chrome netbook.

The name was trademarked with the US Patent and Trademark Office last week and was discovered on BNet.

We initially wondered if Google was planning to rename its rumoured upcoming attempt at social networking, Google Me, to Speedbook. As a kind of middle finger up to Facebook over its recent lawsuit against teaching community TeachBook.

But that was just a flight of fancy on our part. The category Google filed the "Speedbook" trademark in was "computer hardware" - which gives a pretty big hint at what it might be planning to use the name for.

The Chrome OS is a fast-boot Linux-based operating system which gives the bear necessities for getting online - offering a faster boot-up time and overall experience. Given the super-fast speeds Google is saying Chrome OS will deliver, it seems just about right that it may plump for "Speedbook" as a name for its range.

Google has already confirmed that it plans to release the Chrome OS in Autumn of 2010. There has been speculation that it will target the netbook market first before going for tablets, letting its Android OS take the fight to the tablet market instead.

Acer is rumoured to be the first company that will deliver a Chrome OS device, with some early speculation that it would have released a netbook as early as June. This was quashed by Acer, but we're half holding our breath and expecting it to ship a Chrome netbook some time this year.

Dell also signed a partnership with Google to deliver Chrome OS on a range of laptops, suggesting that it will have a broader market than just netbooks. Given how stripped down we hear Chrome is in comparison to Windows it could be a limiting experience.

The truth is we don't really know. It's not clear if either of these third-party devices will utilise the "Speedbook" name. The fact that Google has trademarked it suggests that it may attempt a foray into the hardware market as it did in the mobile sector with the Nexus One.

The smartphone was technically good and received positive reviews but poor marketing led to poorer sales until finally it was rebranded as a developer phone

Google didn't make the phone itself - it teamed up with HTC. We wonder then, if a netbook is on the way, who it might team up with for its Google Speedbook offering. Acer is a likely candidate.

That said, in early July Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google most likely won't need to launch its own Chrome device. Circumstances may have changed since then. There could be a surprise product launch some time soon.