Rumor Has Chrome OS Succeeding Android On Tablet Devices

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Samsung’s much-hyped Galaxy Tab would be able to have its Android 2.2 OS “replaced with Chrome, when that arrives, though owners who aren’t tech savvy should have this upgrade carried out by a professional.” This information was supposedly confirmed by Samsung, which has since said that they have no plans to replace the OS on the Galaxy Tab. Typical corporate prevarication, or something more?

This information could be obvious, revealing, or questionable. I’m leaning towards questionable.

The way it might be obvious is simply that any piece of hardware, with the proper amount of fiddling, will likely be able to run Chrome OS, and the Galaxy Tab is no exception. This is the interpretation that must be implied if the writer doesn’t actually have any inside information. There’s no reason to suppose one way or another, but the Sunday Times isn’t just some rag, so I’d like to think this statement was made purposefully.

If, on the other hand, the reporter is in possession of new information regarding Chrome OS, then the statement brings up all kinds of mysteries, hence the secret interpretation. It implies that Chrome OS would be installable on most devices capable of running Android 2.2, and that seems unlikely. It also makes unclear the status of Android 3.0, which has been rumored to be the OS’s “tablet edition,” supporting higher resolutions and other concessions to larger hardware with different requirements in many ways. If Android 3.0 is a true tablet OS (2.2 and below are not, as Google has admitted somewhat unnecessarily), where does that leave Chrome OS, the web store, all the work they’ve done on the tablet/browser platform?

I’m tempted to go with the obvious interpretation considering how many questions the secret one leaves open, and also because it’s just unlikely that such a revelation would occur via a single statement, in a single article, about a single device, about which Google isn’t particularly enthused. So I’m guessing the reporter’s phrasing simply wanted a few words to make it clear what he meant. What about Samsung’s confirmation? They don’t appear to have a unified strategy with the Galaxy Tab, considering how many launches it had and how many times the price was officially leaked. Their endorsement of this information should be taken with a grain of salt.

It’s even possible that this whole particular rumor is a non-rumor, considering the reporter did say “software” and “Chrome,” not “operating system” and “Chrome OS.” Damn your ambivalent wording, David Phelan.

But the fact remains that Android 3.x and Chrome OS are coming. Some say as soon as October; rumors about hardware have been making the rounds for months, with Acer and HTC reported to be getting sweetheart deals. But that’s all unconfirmed, and right now all we can report with confidence is that there is no clear plan for the unification of the Android and Chrome operating systems — if that was ever the plan, since to all appearances they appear incompatible and even incompossible. And considering we don’t really even know the extent of Google’s ambitions with Chrome OS, any speculation on my part will be sheer guesswork.

With the rumored launch dates approaching quickly (well, no more quickly than any other dates, but still), we’ll be on the lookout for any clarifying information from Google. They do like their surprises.

[Times article behind paywall; via PC World and Electric Pig]