Is Google Chrome on tablets an idea whose time should never come?

Rumors are coming fast and furious about the possible release of a tablet powered by Google's Chrome operating system --- most recently that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab would eventually be powered by Chrome. Given that Chrome wasn't designed to run apps, though, why bother with a Chrome-powered tablet?

The latest rumor about Chrome and tablets is a rather bizarre one. CrunchGear cites a London Sunday Times article that claims that Android 2.2 on the Samsung Galaxy Tab would be "replaced with Chrome, when that arrives, though owners who aren't tech savvy should have this upgrade carried out by a professional."

I'd personally file that along with Bigfoot sightings.

It's only the latest in news stories, buzz, and rumors about Chrome tablets. Computerworld, for example, notes that there have been rumors about an HTC Chrome-based tablet in the works to run on Verizon's network.

Analysts are split on whether Chrome is suited for tablets. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told Computerword, "I think Chrome will not be that relevant in tablets." And Rob Enderle, an analyst and Enderle Group, tells Computerworld the opposite --- that Google wants Chrome, not Android, on tablets.

Why run Chrome on a tablet, though? A big reason for iPad's popularity are the apps that run on it, just as a big reason for the iPhone's popularity and Android phones' popularity are the apps that run on them. And Chrome was designed to run Web-based apps in the cloud, not to run local apps.

Android, at the moment, isn't particularly well-suited for tablets, because Android 2.2 has been designed for 3-to-4-inch screens, not larger tablet screens. Because of that, "Apps aren't going to scale right and won't be quite as pretty" on the Galaxy Tab, Enderle told Computerworld in an interview. He added, "The apps are probably going to be a little ugly."

Android 3.0, codenamed Gingerbread, is expected to be designed for tablets, though, and that problem should be solved.

It's hard to imagine a tablet succeeding that won't run apps. My guess is that when Android tablets go up against Chrome tablets, Android ones will win --- unless Google changes its mind about Chrome and gives it the ability to run apps locally as well.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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