Google Android Set to Grow Beyond Mobile

MobilityOpen SourceSoftwareWorkspace

T-Mobile, Acer, Dell and HP are all planning more computer-centric applications for the mobile operating system

Analysts claim Google’s Linux-based, open-source operating system is ready to break out beyond the smartphone world.

“Android is certainly viable in platforms beyond the phone,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies. “At this time, a lot of companies are experimenting.”

The New York Times reported on 5 April that T-Mobile plans to release a home phone running Android in early 2010. The home phone would include a docking station and a device for data synchronisation, and would be followed later in the year by an Android-based tablet computer.

Asustek Computer is said to be considering Android for its sub-$500 (£340) notebooks, and The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source, wrote that Hewlett-Packard is considering Android for its netbooks, which it calls “Mini-Note PCs.”

Some say Windows XP and Windows Vista, especially Vista, aren’t practical for netbooks, which are designed to be light and small—a traveling option more than a dedicated day-to-day computer—and so typically have only some of the power of traditional laptops. Linux is said to be preferable. And, possibly, Android may be too.

“Vista is too big for netbooks,” Kay said, “but netbooks are becoming more powerful, and Windows 7, which has a smaller footprint than Vista, will be a good fit.”

Microsoft said Microsoft Windows 7, which is expected out around January 2010, will offer a smaller operating system footprint, faster boot-up and shut-down times, and improved power management for better battery life.

In a Microsoft-run Q&A, Brad Brooks, a Microsoft vice president, said he was optimistic about the year to come, and, “Windows 7 provides a great user experience on small-notebook PCs.”

Research company Strategy Analytics expects Android to take 12 percent of the market share of global smartphone shipments by 2012, and to gain traction on other types of devices, such as netbooks.

IDC estimates that netbook shipments will grow to 22 million in 2009, from 11.4 million in 2008.

Android could come to take a portion of the netbook market share, which Microsoft currently holds 85 percent of, according to Bloomberg, with Linux holding the rest (although Microsoft has put that number at 96 percent.)

“Android won’t have the field to itself by any means,” Kay said, adding, “Don’t forget, Apple’s OS runs on both a phone and a PC.”

Neil Mawston, a director with Strategy Analytics, said growth and repositioning are where the market is headed.

“Android and [Google] Chrome are emerging as cross-platform products. Google is positioning itself as a software player across fixed desktops, portable laptops and mobile smartphones,” Mawston said.

As the platform matures, he said, “We expect Android to appear in several smartphones and several netbooks over the next two years, from companies such as Acer, HP and Dell. Eventually, all mobile operating systems will have to go multiplatform, because the cellular industry is moving to a three-screen world, interconnected by cloud-based services…”

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