Google has announced partnerships with several big-name manufacturers for its forthcoming Chrome operating system. They include nearly all the major producers of consumer-oriented computers.
In a blog post today Google confirmed it is working with five computer manufacturers to produce Chrome-based machines: Acer, Asus, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba. Among the major U.S. producers, the only really notable absence is Dell.
Other partners announced include Freescale, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, all of whom produce chips used in smartphones. The only software partner listed was Adobe, which likely means the Chrome system will come bundled with Flash support. Google could also be looking use Adobe’s Air system to bring more online applications to Chrome.
It’s worth remembering these partnerships won’t necessarily all lead to something. As an open source system there is little if any financial commitment involved in becoming a “partner” and it’s a low-risk way of getting in on a project which will inevitably have a high profile.
Google has already indicated the system will be aimed at netbooks at first, with machines planned to be on sale in 12 to 18 months. With the announcement of partnerships with smartphone chipmakers, it’s not clear how the system will co-exist with Android. Google says the difference is that Chrome is aimed primarily at people who spend most of their time working online, so within the phone market it could be targeted at high-end handsets designed for the business market.
Time spent online, of course, is time Google can show users adverts, which appears to be the business model behind the Chrome system. That’s led to speculation that some of these partnerships may involve Google subsidizing the cost of netbooks. Peter Glaskowsky of CNET points out that with open source netbooks being so low-priced, it would only take a small subsidy to make a machine significantly cheaper than rival options.