While netbook gaming is currently in its infancy, the announcement of Google's new Chrome operating system this week has already got games developers and graphics specialists such as Nvidia excited about the future possibilities for faster and smoother high definition 3D graphics processing in this sector.
Nvidia has been among the first of the leading graphics chip specialists to nail its flag to the Google Chrome OS mast.
"This announcement reinforces our view of GPU-CPU co-processing for balanced platforms. It validates ARM and devices like Tegra which uses the ARM processors as key players in the market," said Derek Perez of Nvidia.
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"This also reinforces the belief that MIDs [mobile internet devices] are hot and have the major computing companies in the world building software and hardware for these types of devices - to which we believe Tegra is the ideal choice.
"Currently Tegra supports WinCE for netbooks and WinMobile and Android for Smartphones....as more OSs come out that our OEMs want, we will support them. We're excited to see what Google brings to market."
3D netbook gaming
Clearly, while there is no immediate threat from netbooks and mobile internet devices (MIDs) to 'traditional' 3D Windows-based gaming in the immediate future, the fundamental shift towards casual and online gaming in the mass market could well be 'game-changing' later in 2010 (when Chrome OS launches) and beyond.
"If we believe figures that online gaming is predicted to grow by 120% by 2012 in Europe, Google's Chrome Operating System could potentially aid this growth and help open up online gaming for more people by making it cheaper and ultimately more accessible," said PC Zone Editor, Ali Wood.
"However, while there's great potential for online and casual games, at this stage I can't see this as a great challenger to Windows for core games. Ultimately it all depends on the final details from Google as to what Chrome's capabilities are."
Google's Chrome OS will allow apps can be written in traditional web languages, ensuring compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux alongside Chrome OS.
Games devs support Google OS
A number of leading MMO and casual games developers have also been quick to support Google's latest move into the operating systems space.
"We are very excited by the news of the Google Chrome OS," Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard told TechRadar.
"Jagex loves the Google's spirit of innovation and "just get on and do it, without the hype" mindset that we also echo. I find itrather heartening to see the underdog threaten Microsoft's current dominance of this space.
"Jagex will certainly look to support this new operating system in terms of our games and also for use in house if it meets our security requirements."
Elsewhere, MediaTonic's Technical Director Paul Croft remined TechRadar that "the casual gaming audience has grown exponentially in recent years, fuelled in part by the convergence of gaming and social networks, and the rapid influx of accessible 'pick-up and play' gaming concepts - especially in the iPhone and Flash sectors).
"What has really helped this growth is the continued downward spiral in the pricing of computing hardware, particularly laptops and, more recently, netbooks.
"An OS that is very cheap or free will further aid this growth and bring more users into the casual world. I would imagine that Google will introduce Wave features to a broader consumer base and this will have a major positive impact."
TechRadar has contacted Blizzard and a number of other leading PC and MMO developers for further comment on the future of netbook and 'mobile internet device' gaming – so stay tuned for further updates on this over the coming days.
Media Tonic's Paul Croft is speaking at the upcoming Develop conference in Brighton (July 14-16 2009) on the subject of Practical applications of online convergence in casual gaming.