According to news outlets in Asia, Google is set to follow its rivals and launch an own-brand Chrome OS-powered 12.85-inch touch notebook in the first quarter of 2013.

Chinese Commercial Times reports (translated) that Taiwanese manufacturers Compal Electronics and Wintek have been tapped to handle OEM and touch panel production respectively, with initial supply shipments expected to have commenced in November ahead of a launch at the start of next year.

As is the trend with most modern smartphones and Apple’s new iMacs, Google is expected to utilise optical lamination, which combines the touch sensor and cover glass in one, in-turn reducing the overall thickness of a device.

Following its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google has remained quiet on its plans to move into releasing own-branded products. Over the past 6 months, the company has partnered with Samsung and Acer to launch low-cost Chromebooks, which do not feature touch support and are aimed at families, schools, and those in business, to offer something more cost-friendly and help foster Google’s idea of moving people to the Cloud.

Reports of a touch-based Chrome OS device aren’t new – in fact Google was linked with such a device in 2009. However, a purchasable product has yet to materialise, even though developers have been pulling apart the OS to demonstrate the platform’s touch-specific UI.

If early reports are true, the launch of a Chrome OS touch notebook would suggest Google has adapted hits plans over the years as it pushes Chromebook branding. With Microsoft leading the way for new Windows 8 devices with the launch of its Surface tablet and keyboard accessories, Google may be looking to eliminate partners and profit directly from sales of own-brand devices.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt suggested in 2010 that if the company would launch a touch-sensitive device, it would only be powered by Android.

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