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Forget Google's Chromebook -- Where's an Androidbook?

By Evan Niu, CFA - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:30AM

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Google's Chromebooks haven't gained much traction, and a new rumor suggests that the search giant may be interested in launching Androidbooks.

Search giant Google's (GOOGL -3.93%) Chromebook push is less than three years young. In that time, Big G has expanded the lineup to include numerous OEMs, and most recently added a super high-end Pixel model that sports a touchscreen and $1,299 price tag.

There's also been much speculation that Google may eventually merge Chrome OS and Android, a possibility that Fellow Fool Tim Beyers is betting on, even as Chairman Eric Schmidt seemingly shot down that idea last month. Android chief Andy Rubin stepping down and handing over the mobile keys to Chrome exec Sundar Pichai certainly fuels the speculative flames further.

What about an Androidbook?

That's what DIGITIMES is now suggesting is in the works; the Taiwanese publication is pegging the late third quarter or early fourth quarter as a tentative launch date for such a device. There are some laptops running Android already out there, but none officially from Google.

While an Androidbook would theoretically be able to benefit from the massive number of Android apps available in Google Play, most of those apps are tailored for smartphone displays and to a lesser extent, tablet displays. Android has integrated scaling algorithms, but that sometimes results in wasted space in apps that are just scaled up.

At the same time, it would likely be a cheap experiment for Google to pursue. PC vendors would probably sign up to further diversify their portfolios away from Microsoft Windows 8, since that platform has received a lukewarm reception at best. Hewlett-Packard now offers Chromebooks for exactly this reason as part of its multiplatform strategy, making it conceivable that the PC giant could be interested in Androidbooks, too.

Thus far, Chromebooks have failed to make a meaningful dent in the broader PC market, while Android is taking the mobile world by storm. Would you buy an Androidbook?

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