According to reports from Asia, Google will release an ARM-based ChomeOS laptop in limited numbers in time for the holidays.


Chrome Netbook Mockup from CNET


The details are short but Taiwan-based  Digitimes reports Google’s GOOG first Chrome laptops will be self-branded and are en route to the U.S. as we speak. Digitimes anticipates a November announcement and  a small allotment of Google netbooks to be available for the holidays,  similar to how  Google distributed the Nexus One smartphone.

Google’s Chrome notebook is expected to be manufactured by Inventec with initial shipments to reach 60,000-70,000 units. The Google Chrome notebook will feature an ARM-based platform and will not be selling through retail channels.

Interestingly, Google is going with an ARM-based platform rather than Intel INTC ,  if the report is correct.  That would mean the world’s largest chipmaker, and GoogleTV partner, should be up in arms (har).

If ChromeOS on ARM gains traction, there could be a huge downside for the Intel monopoly that has dominated the PC landscape for the past two decades.

Digitimes also says that HP HPQ and Acer, two of Microsoft’s MSFT biggest customers, will  have a limited launch of ChromeOS netbooks for the holidays.  Both vendors will use Quanta Computer for manufacturing.  I expect their announcement later this month.  I’d also expect Dell DELL to participate in the announcement but the Round Rock Texas-based company was not mentioned in the report.  Dell has previously acknowledged plans to test  Google OS (and has been caught lurking in the Chrome code).

Google has pinpointed “Fall 2010” as the launch window for ChromeOS and as I look up at the trees in my backyard, I don’t see many leaves remaining. There should be an announcement any week now if Google expects to deliver by the holidays.  I’d expect prices to be low – in the $200-$300 range – as these devices don’t need much storage space or a Microsoft license and run on cheap ARM processors.

Previously known as “smartbooks” ARM-based laptops haven’t yet found a niche market.  The netbook market, whose recent decline is blamed on Apple’s ARM-based iPad, has been dominated by Intel’s Atom chip and Microsoft’s lower-tiered Windows OSes.