Touchscreen Google Chromebook may launch this year

We’ve heard this rumor before, but it’s now looking a little more solid: it appears that Google’s working on a touch-screen version of its Chromebook internet device.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s set to be formally announced any day now. It would be good timing, with Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface computer seeing mixed reviews and a less-than-overwhelming takeup.

The Google device could come courtesy of the company’s tie-ups with Acer and samsung, which launched Chromebooks last year.

Despite the obvious ergonomic issue, vendors – most notably Microsoft – are increasingly incorporating touch into standard-format laptops. Indeed, according to research firm NPD, a quarter of laptop sales are currently of touch-screen machines.

If Google were to do the same, though, it would remove the distinction between Chrome, used on the company’s laptops, and Android, which comes on all the company’s touch screen devices so far. It’s possible that the two OSs, both Linux-based, could eventually be merged.

There’s no word on price, but the device would inevitably be more expensive than the existing version, which costs between $200 and $250. Much more than that, though, and the device might lose its selling point as a low-cost companion device, and might find itself competing against Microsoft’s Surface.