Continuing its recent run of Chromebook rumours, the Taiwanese tech site DigiTimes is back with a fresh, and rather tantalising, set of new claims.
In its latest reports, sourced, as always from its industry connections, it claims a convertible touchscreen Acer Chromebook will hit the market next year, while a fresh set of ODMs will enter the Chrome device supply chain to meet growing demand.
Intrigued? Grab your pessimistic wet suit and dive into the gossip.
The first, less glamorous claim, concerns ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers). DigiTimes sources say the addition of China-based chip vendor Rockchip to the Chromebook club will lead to a number of other local device makers entering the supply chain.
Among them BYD, who supply the electronics industry with everything from integrated circuits to batteries, touchscreen panels and trackpads, and Bitland.
Like other ODMs, both BYD and Bitland don’t (typically) make complete devices to sell themselves. Instead they make and manufacture equipment on behalf of “brand vendors” like ASUS, Lenovo, Acer, etc.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Almost every Chromebook on the market at present is made by one of two companies: Quantal Computer Inc or Compal Electronics. More diversity in ODMs means more diversity in hardware, price and availability.
Lenovo, a long time customer of Bitland, is among those Digitimes expects to launch a device manufactured by the new entrants.
The second, arguably more satiating rumor, says we should expect to see Acer launch an 11.6-inch convertible Chromebook in the first half of 2015.
It’ll come ‘equipped with a touch screen and a cover that can be turned to convert into a tablet’, and will be produced by Quanta Computers Inc.
Interestingly, and seemingly at odds with the rumor preceding it, DigiTimes go on to quote their source as saying OEMs have thus far been lax to launch convertible Chromebooks due to the “additional cost for hinges and touch screens [that] renders retail prices of US$199 impossible”.
That may go some way to explaining the price and limited availability of the only “true” Chromebook convertible this far, the Thinkpad Yoga 11e. It also means that if, as they claim, a tablet-y convertible from Acer arrives — and the recent spinning down of Project Athena makes such a move a little less certain — it may do so with a higher-than-average price tag attached.