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The Chinese language Commercial Times, based in Taiwan, has published reports indicating that Google awarded a touchscreen contract to electronics maker Wintek and that Compal Electronics will be responsible for assembling a Google-branded notebook using the touchscreens.
Google declined to comment.
The report indicates that Compal will begin shipping the devices by the end of the year, continuing through the first quarter of 2013. The initial run is said to be relatively small -- 20 million units.
[ Read Samsung Chromebook: Hands-On Review. ]
That would be a huge shipment by last year's standards. In November 2011, Taiwan-based Digitimes said that Acer had sold only 5,000 Chromebooks and that Samsung had sold even fewer. Google has not reported how many Chromebooks have been shipped or are in use, but Sundar Pichai, senior VP of Chrome, has in the past stressed that Google is committed to Chrome OS.
Google's Android devices have been selling a bit better: Asus, which makes the Google-branded Nexus 7, last month said that Nexus 7 sales approached a million a month in its third quarter.
But Google's persistence with Chrome OS — or perhaps just the affordable pricing of Chrome OS devices and an expanded set of retail partners — might be starting to pay off. Samsung's recently revised Chromebook continues to be the top-seller in Amazon's laptop category, a position it has maintained for the past two weeks.
Although Google has yet to officially confirm its plans, its engineers and product managers acknowledged at its recent Chromebook media event that future Chrome OS devices might include touchscreens, not to mention a tablet.
This is hardly a secret: The Chromium website makes it clear that Chrome OS engineers are exploring tablets and a touch screen UI. The only question is when devices that support touch interaction will be made available.
The open-source Chromium code, which forms the basis of the Chrome OS, includes many references to touch-based interaction. In addition, one Google software engineer contributing touch-based code to Chromium recently noted that he is beginning to implement the W3C Pointer Events spec — which provides a single mechanism to handle mouse clicks, finger touches, and pen interaction — in Chrome.