Reports from the Far East starting to emerge are suggesting that Google is looking to further expand its Chrome OS device portfolio with an own-brand offering in Q1 2013. A report in the China Times claims that Google has approached Taiwanese manufacturers Compal Electronics and Wintek to handle the hardware. The kicker — this Google branded Chromebook is said to be a 12.85-inch device with a touch based input.
Google is of course in the midst of another round of Chromebook pushing at the moment, with low-cost offerings currently on the market from both Acer and Samsung. The reports of touch input are interesting, especially considering Google's recent push into the tablet space with both the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10. A touch based Chromebook would offer a different experience to an Android tablet. It could be seen more as a move to compete not against Google's own products, but more so against the likes of the Microsoft Surface and the other Windows 8 based touch-input laptops and tablets.
Touch input alone may not be enough to increase adoption of Google's cloud based OS, but price could have a much bigger effect. We've seen with the recent launches of the Nexus 4, 7 and 10 that Google is capable of offering a premium experience at an attractive price point. If Google were to offer an own-brand Chromebook, sold exclusively through the Play Store, margins could be stretched as thin as they wanted with a potential for an attractive price for consumers.