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Google Tablet on the way?

Following Apple's unveiling of its iPad tablet computer earlier this week, could Google also be planning to launch a rival tablet running its upcoming Chrome operating system? The Chrome OS has until now been aimed at netbooks, but would seem to be the perfect candidate for a simpler tablet device - like the iPad - and could easily build on touch screen foundations used in Google's Android mobile operating system.

TechRadar attended a recent event at Google's London headquarters, where hints were given that this is a path the Chrome OS could follow. When asked about any plans for touch, Anders Sandholm - Google's senior product manager of search based in Aarhus, Denmark - struggled to directly answer the question without giving anything away.

According to TechRadar, 'When asked the question, Sandholm looked to a PR helper, chuckled nervously and said "I can't... I mean... right now we are targeting netbooks, that's what we're focused on, but I expect it to work well... we expect it to target everything up to desktop computers [...] Chrome OS will be built for a specific hardware setup."'

There are ongoing rumours that HTC will again partner with Google to produce the hardware, after their successful partnership in manufacturing the Nexus One. Earlier this month, HTC confirmed that it had been developing prototypes of tablet computer devices but had stopped the work to focus on its core business of smartphones. However, with all the recent hype surrounding the iPad, now could be a good time to come back into the game.

At the London event, Sandholm did confirm that the first devices running Chrome OS at its launch will be "netbook-based." Late last year, in another interview with TechRadar, Sandholm indicated that Google had not yet made up their mind over any touch-based plans. "I'm sure that something is being discussed [about touch input], but I'm not exactly sure what the outcome is going to be," he revealed. "Touch is definitely a possibly use, but it depends on how devices evolve over time," adding that "we are following this very closely."

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