updated 12:40 pm EDT, Wed April 1, 2009
Android netbooks coming?
The Android platform for mobile phones, developed by Google, may soon be used in netbooks, with HP confirming interest and ASUS and Dell rumored to be developing devices as well, says the Wall Street Journal. HP says its engineers are testing the technology, but the decision has not yet been made to go ahead with the plan. The free open-source software could drop the prices of netbooks, which are entry-level devices with low margins that make ultra-low price points hard to achieve. Taiwan's ASUS has said it is considering Android-powered netbooks; Dell may be more likely to develop Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) with the software, but neither company has elaborated on statements.
Currently, relatively costly Microsoft software is used to run many netbooks, though Linux is sometimes used as well. It is estimated that Windows adds about $15 to the cost of each netbook it comes preloaded on.
The main problem with Android on netbooks is thought to be its inherent incompatibility with software, as well as drivers for peripherals like printers and scanners. Linux has suffered from similar problems in the past, and so Android may need more support before it can challenge the estimated 90 percent of netbooks that ship with Windows XP.
Some believe the Android netbooks may be sold through wireless providers, discounted through subsidies when owners opt for a long-term data plan. Dell and HP already offer certain netbooks through carriers.
The adoption of Android by netbook makers could also affect hardware requirements, and the processor industry in general. Intel's Atom CPU could lose its dominance in the market, as Android is designed to work on ARM chip designs, which include products from Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Freescale.