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Google Set To Unveil Chrome OS Netbook

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Google will show a Chrome OS netbook on 7 December, but there is no word on when the devices will arrive

Google is hosting an event on 7 December where it is likely to demonstrate a netbook based on its long-awaited Chrome operating system.

Chrome OS is Google’s support platform for its increasingly popular Chrome web browser, which accounts for 9.27 percent of browser use, according to Net Applications.

Mystery event

Google intends the platform to run on netbooks and other machines with keyboards, booting up in seconds as an alternative to computers based on Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Linux.

Google late on 3 December emailed eWEEK a media invitation to a Chrome-related event, stating simply: “On 7 December, we will host an event in San Francisco where we plan to share some exciting news about Chrome.”

Engadget and other tech blogs said that this event will feature Chrome OS on a Google-branded netbook, and possibly the formal launch of the Chrome Web Store, which will provide an outlet for programmers to showcase and sell web applications for the platform.

Engadget said the Intel Atom chip-powered machine “isn’t going to be a mass market device” and that there will only be around 65,000 units available to Googlers and their friends and family.

Chrome OS is still very much in a beta stage unfit for mass consumption. The blog also offers pictures of a Chrome OS netbook keyboard here.

Google released Chrome OS to open source in November 2009 with the stated goal of getting Chrome OS machines from partners such as Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba to consumers in time for the holiday shopping season.

No Christmas launch

Black Friday, the prime time for selling such consumer electronics devices, has come and gone with no Chrome OS machines launched.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said at the Web 2.0 Summit on 15 November that Chrome OS was a few months from public launch on netbooks.

Google has clearly been testing Chrome OS netbooks in house, which is what company engineers will show off at an event in San Francisco on Tuesday. Expect a mass consumer launch of Chrome OS netbooks in 2011.

The market’s reception of the device should be interesting to watch. Apple’s iPad and Android-based tablet computers such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab have chomped PC and netbook share in the latter half of 2010.

Questions on peoples’ minds include: when can the public get them, and will Chrome OS machines be relegated to niche product status thanks to tablets?