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Chrome OS Mobile Devices Expected In June

PC maker Acer is expected to debut devices running Google's Chrome operating system early next month -- or a prototype -- at the Computex trade show in Taiwan. It is not known whether it will be netbooks or tablets or both, but if the launch does happen, the company will be the first to do so and the move is coming much sooner than most industry watchers had predicted.

Google said the first Chrome OS netbooks would be available late 2010, while Acer said the first Chrome OS netbook would be ready mid-year. Observers have said the operating system is better suited for devices with keyboards and trackpads and will be used on more netbooks and smartbooks.

The launch would be a significant move for Google in the PC industry. The company introduced Chrome OS in November as a lightweight, browser-based operating system designed for netbooks to boot up in seven seconds or less.

The goal of the Chrome OS is to shift computing to a fast-boot, browser-based experience that isn't bogged down by an oversized OS and desktop apps. Google has also mentioned bringing the OS to other devices such as smartbooks and tablets running ARM processors, which are designed for mobile devices.

Acer's president of IT products division Jim Wong has said his company is "aggressively pursuing" becoming one of the first PC makers to offer Chrome devices. Acer said it expects to launch its products in the second half of the year, and it expects to ship one million Chrome devices in 2010.

Acer hasn't mentioned pricing for its Chrome OS netbooks. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt said recently that he anticipates netbooks running the Chrome OS to cost between $300 and $400, which is in line with devices running Microsoft's Windows operating system.

If Acer is the first to release Chrome laptops, it likely won't be long before other PC makers like Asus and Lenovo follow. And other netbook makers are working with Google as well, including Dell, which demoed the Chrome OS on a Mini 10v netbook, but said it was evaluating it.