Chrome OS tablet from HTC reported to ship in November

The tablet, with Verizon Wireless as the carrier, would be available by Black Friday

An HTC tablet running Google's Chrome operating system will be available through Verizon Wireless in late November, according to an unnamed source cited by the blog Downloadsquad.

The blog's source specifically said that the tablet will appear on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. The blog said the tablet would probably be heavily subsidized by Verizon to compete against the Apple iPad.

HTC and Verizon could not be reached for comment.

The blog also speculated that the HTC tablet would have plenty of popular features, in keeping with HTC's Nexus One smartphone tradition. Those include a 1280-by-720 multitouch display for the tablet, 2GB of RAM, and a minimum of 32GB of storage, the blog said.

But the most intriguing feature would be Chrome OS, since Google has mostly made a splash with Android for smartphones, and a number of Android tablets are expected in the coming months from Samsung and others. For example, Samsung is reported to be showing a new Android 2.2 tablet at a consumer electronics show in Berlin early in September.

FierceWireless reported in July that an HTC spokesman had noted widespread interest in tablets and had said that HTC would enter the tablet market if it found a way to offer "clear value and differentiate ourselves."

Chrome was introduced as an operating system to power netbooks, not tablets, although some analysts have said that Chrome could work in both types of devices.

Analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates said an HTC tablet running Chrome wouldn't be surprising, since Chrome is a good operating system for thin and light tablet-style devices that are positioned as "being a window into the Internet." As such, this tablet could highlight Google's "cloud is everything" strategy, he said.

But Gold said that an HTC Chrome-based tablet would not be a true competitor to the iPad, since Chrome doesn't have many of the programming and application capabilities of the iPad's operating system and there are no apps available to download to a Chrome device at this point. "But as a cheap, connected Internet device to go to Facebook, view Hulu and YouTube and work with Gmail, it could be attractive," he said.

He also noted that such a device would need to be low cost, under $200, to be a success, and that Verizon would need to keep its data pricing low and avoid data caps because of the way it would be used on the Internet.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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