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Google Expected to Launch Smartbook This Month

Is there room in the marketplace for another netbook? Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) seems to think so, as do partners Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Acer Inc. Just about everyone else thinks that netbooks are heading for extinction as customers flock to the iPad from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and other manufacturers like Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) and H-P get their own tablets out the door.

Google apparently didn’t get the memo. The company first talked about this smartbook — Googlespeak for netbook — over a year ago.  Now, DigiTimes reports that Google will launch the smartbook later in November, followed by similar products from H-P and Acer in December.

The smartbooks use Google’s “other” operating system — Chrome OS, which the company touts as an “open source, lightweight” OS that will run on chipsets from Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) and ARM processors from ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH). The Google version uses ARM chips.

Google will not sell the smartbooks through retail outlets, instead limiting shipments to 60,000-70,000 units that the company will presumably ship direct. Google’s units will be built by Taiwanese PC maker Inventec Corp. H-P and Acer intend to use another Taiwanese maker, Quanta Computer Inc.

If this sounds like the model that Google followed with its Nexus One smartphone, well, it is. And that didn’t turn out too well, as Google sold a mere 135,000 units of the phone. So why do the same thing again?

The short manufacturing run leads to the conclusion that Google intends only to ship what appears to be a reference model that other computer makers can use to jump start their own manufacturing. If that’s the case, then the small manufacturing run makes sense.

Unlike Apple, Google does not appear to want to own the hardware and software platform. Rather, Google wants to control development of the OS in order to push its Google Docs into the fast-growing enterprise cloud computing space. There’s money to be made there, with the added advantage of undercutting the stranglehold that Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) now enjoys on enterprise productivity applications.

That’s just speculation, of course, but nothing about the way Google has approached the launch of Chrome OS or the smartbook indicates that the company plans to hit the hardware space in a big way. We’ll know more by the end of November for sure.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2010/11/google-expected-launch-smartbook-this-month/.

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