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Operating Systems

HTC planning Android and Chrome OS hybrid?

HTC is reportedly planning a hybrid of Chrome OS and Android, while Dixons is predicting big business for Chromebooks.

Chrome is where the heart is -- or at least it could be next year, despite an underwhelming start. We're talking about Chrome OS and Chromebook laptops, which have had a poor first year but could take off in 2012, with HTC planning a hybrid of Chrome OS and Android -- and Dixons predicting big sales.

Industry watchers DigiTimes report HTC is considering making a Chromebook, a web-focused laptop powered by Google's Chrome OS software and combining the best bits of Chrome and Android. But is that such a great idea?

HTC has emerged as one of the leading makers of Android smart phones over the last couple of years, but it could be biting off more than it can chew with Chrome. We're intrigued to see what form a hybrid of Chrome OS and Android could take though -- it could be a tablet/laptop mashup similar to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, or an over-sized, keyboard-packing chimera like the truly awful HTC Shift -- only less laughably terrible, obviously.

It's unclear whether the device would dual-boot Android and Chrome OS -- as the Shift did with WIndows and Windows Mobile -- using Android for everyday activities and Chrome for more involved tasks. Or it could somehow integrate the two, perhaps in a customised version of Android, like the Amazon Kindle Fire.

It could also refer to the use of more efficient ARM processors, rather than the Intel Atom chips used in the Chromebooks we've seen so far.

Chrome OS works by storing everything online, so your laptop isn't slowed down by software. The advantage is that it's much quicker to start and to use, although it does rely on an Internet connection to do pretty much anything.

The first Chromebook was the Samsung Series 5, a small and decently specced laptop let down by its need for a permanent web connection and high price. Samsung and Acer have both recently dropped their Chromebooks' prices in light of disappointing sales.

Meanwhile Dixons predicts that one in ten computers sold next year will be Chromebooks, which seems optimistic in light of poor sales so far: DigiTimes claims less than 30,000 Chromebooks sold this year.

But Dixons also told the Telegraph that such success would rely on "the right mix of hardware partners and a much greater consumer push with regards to the benefits".