HTC isn’t just the design and manufacturing brains behind Google’s Nexus One Android phone. The smartphone maker is also reportedly working behind the scenes on a Google touchscreen tablet device. A new report, from Australia’s Smarthouse, has the already cozy pair working on a touchscreen tablet device powered by the Google Chrome OS.
Details are slim at this point, but there are already supposed to be “several working models of a touch tablet” floating around somewhere in secrecy. According to “sources” Google and HTC have been developing the tablet over the past 1.5 years, and they have one model that runs Chrome. The working models indicate that development is fairly far along, and could see production in time to give the Apple Tablet a run for its money.
Google and HTC have been working closely together since HTC manufactured the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 as the first ever smartphone powered by Google’s Android OS. Seeing as how HTC essentially helped kick-start Google’s smartphone platform, it’s not too surprising to see the two companies working on another untested platform – the Chrome OS. Remember when Google admitted to making Chrome OS reference hardware for OEMs? It looks like the pieces are all starting to come together.
What’s interesting is that this report follows on the heels of a new “iSlate” leak that claims Apple’s tablet computer will be powered by a new Mac OS X 10.7, codenamed “Clouded Leopard.” The name of the new Mac OS suggests that some aspects of data storage and processing would be done in remote server farms, possibly related to some sort of streaming iTunes media service. A Google tablet running on Google’s cloud-based Chrome OS would make for a compelling counter-point to Apple’s tablet.
The takeaway here is that the web-connected tablet market is heating up. It’s not just Apple and Google vying for a piece of the tablet-pie, we’re going to see a variety of manufacturers launching tablets in the coming months. It also makes you wonder what, exactly, Google is planning to announce on Jan 5th in Mountain View. Nexus One? Maybe. Google tablet? Please.