Surprise, surprise - Acer, the same company who not too long ago bemoaned Google's open-source Android platform as not being suitable to run netbooks, has gone ahead with just such a device anyway, even though most other vendors are content to wait for Pine Trail before releasing more netbook models.
Acer did, however, play it safe by pairing Android with Windows in a sort of dual-boot environment (Android has to be booted first and acts like a sort of instant-on SplashTop replacement), but that's more than the other top tier OEMs have done. According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, that's because other OEMs are taking a more conservative wait-and-see approach and will re-evaluate things once the final quarter of 2009 shakes out.
After seeing sequential growth to the of tune of 20 percent in the last two quarters, DigiTimes notes that netbook shipments from Taiwan notebook vendors is on target to backslide 8 percent in Q4. Part of the reason, analysts surmise, is waning demand as customers eagerly await the arrival of Windows 7, but vendors are also trying to keep inventory levels down on the verge of Intel's upcoming Pine Trail platform, due to arrive in early 2010.
It still remains to be seen how many OEMs will embrace Android on netbooks, whether as a standalone OS or in conjunction with Windows. So far, Acer's dual-booting Aspire One AOD250, which was only recently announced in the U.S., is the only one consumers have to choose from here in the States. Other markets will also see the AOD250, but not until after the launch of Windows 7, DigiTimes reports.
The e-book reader market is fast becoming a crowded niche, so in order to stand out from the competition, some manufacturers are taking liberties with the basic design. Take Spring Design, for example, who on Monday announced a dual-screen e-book reader built around Google's Android platform.
"This is the start of a whole new experience of reading content on e-books, potentially igniting a whole new industry in multimedia e-book publishing for secondary authors to create supplementary content that is hyper linked to the text," said Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. "We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations. This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience."
Called 'Alex,' the new e-book readers sport a 6-inch e-ink EPD display on the top portion and a 3.5-inch color LCD on the bottom. Spring Design says Android has been optimized to support integration between the two displays to prolong battery life. But what exactly is the point of the color display?
Apparently Alex owners are able to capture and cache Web content on the color display and toggle to view it on the EPD screen without taxing the battery. Users can also create their own images and notes to augment the original text.
Spring Design says it is still talking with "major content partners" and hopes to release Alex into the wild by the end of the year.
This means that we are a few weeks away from the launch of another Android handset. Shih was addressing the media along with Asus president and CEO Jerry Shen, who said he expects demand for netbooks to remain steady in 2010.
Android and netbooks are not the only things keeping Asustek’s top brass occupied. Chairman Shih said that the company is mulling an entry into the green technology market.
Spring Design unveiled an Android power eReader device dubbed “Alex,” today. The new eReader is powered by Google’s Android OS, features dual screens (!), SD card reader and a Wifi/3G network connection.
There is no question the most unique feature of “Alex” is its multiple screens. It features a 6 inch monochrome display optimized for reading text. However, it also features a color 3.5 inch display allowing the user to simultaneously browse other content. The two screens have been optimized to work together.
"Users can capture and cache web content from their online experience on the LCD screen, and toggle to view it on the EPD screen without taxing the battery life," explained Spring Design CEO Dr. Priscilla Lu. "Browser features such as bookmarking, history, and security settings are built in, and the device with full Android browsing capability, is mobile enabled with smart phones capabilities."
Spring Design is currently shopping for content providers and hopes to be shipping the device before the end of 2009.
Apparently you just aren’t a real computer company these days unless you have your own smartphone, and Dell is finally ready to take the plunge. Details on the new Dell phone for the U.S. market are pretty scarce at the moment, but apparently it may, or many not be based on the Android operating system, and it will be released sometime in 2010.During an appearance at FiReGlobal today, CEO Michael Dell confirmed not just the existence of the device, but its importance to the company’s future.
“Mobility is absolutely the theme” Dell claims, and this will have a big impact on their PC business as well. “The only reason people buy desktops today is if you are concerned about price or power, otherwise, laptops dominate”. He also heavily downplayed the significance of the netbook market, predicting that the market share would level off at around 12 to 15 percent. “I think there is some disenchantment and user dissatisfaction…. After 36 hours, you say the screen is too small”.
As for carriers of the new Dell phone, he wouldn’t comment specifically on the AT&T rumor, but he did confirm that China Mobile will carry the launch device and would be the starting point for their entry into the market. As for their long term plans, Dell claims they have left the door open to pursue other platforms, and that future devices may not be Android based depending on how the mobile space plays out.
Perhaps they are waiting to see if Windows Mobile 7 actually catches up to the pack, as Dell traditionally enjoys a pretty cozy relationship with Microsoft.
Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, held the company’s third quarter conference call today and has some things to say about Android. According to Schmidt, “Android adoption is about to explode.” There are 12 official Android phones in production now, and the pace of Android handset releases is rapidly increasing. Additionally, mobile searches are up over 30 percent over last quarter.
The Android platform is aimed at getting these mobile search numbers up. By producing a free and open-source OS for manufacturers to use, they’ve almost guaranteed wide adoption. Google hasn’t mentioned how much of their overall revenue comes from mobile, but they have said they expect it to be a big source of growth in the coming years.
While Google may be acting coy, analysts have estimated that 70% of mobile advertizing will be based on search. Clearly, it is in Google’s best interest that we all get an Android powered phone in our hands so they can sell us stuff. You may have already bought the phone, but they want to sell you other stuff.
Dell’s first Android phone, the Mini 3i, was originally a China only release. Of course there were rumors that it might find its way to American shores, but they are rumors no more. Michael Dell has come out and said the Mini 3i will be available in the US early in 2010.
Dell mused on the smartphone market in a speech, saying, “The internet in your pocket ... and new platforms that are coming out are pretty interesting. Some of them resemble things that we're pretty familiar with, in terms of open systems and the ability to compete in an open ecosystem. I think you'll begin to see us show up there, gradually.”
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Mini 3i would be modified to run on AT&T in the US. With Dell’s admission that the phone is indeed headed stateside, it seems likely that AT&T will get their first Android set in Q1 2010
Thus far, every official Android phone has been running a 528MHz Qualcomm chip based on the ARM11 core. While inexpensive and prolific, they really aren’t very fast. In fact, the ARM11 chip may be holding Android phones back. The Acer A1 is breaking the mold, and not a bit too soon.
While previously leaked specs indicated its CPU would be running at 768MHz, Acer has now said it will have a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. It’s also rocking Android version 1.6, known as Donut. The upcoming smartphone is equipped with a 3.5 inch 800 x 480 display, and a 5 megapixel camera. It will also have an Acer branded cloud sync application.
Acer hasn’t released any additional specs at this time. No US carrier support has been talked about either. Even if we don’t see it in the US, it could set a new standard for Android handsets everywhere.
Holy dual-platforming netbooks, Batman, have you seen Acer's revamped Aspire One D250? The netbook has developed a split personality since we last saw it and now rolls with both Google's open-source Android OS and Microsoft's closed-source Windows 7 software in 32-bit form.
But this isn't your typical dual-booting setup. To load Windows 7, you must first fire up Android and poke around the OS's slide-out menu to select "Switch OS." Jim Wong, Acer's Senior Corporate VP, downplayed the additional step, noting that Android gives users "instant on" functionality. And judging by the YouTube clip, he's right - following the POST screen, Android appears to boot in under 10 seconds.
Acer's dual-boot strategy is a continuation of the company's previous plan to ship a combo Android/WinXP ultraportable. Acer's original stance was that Android hadn't matured to the point where it would be a suitable OS for netbooks, at least in standalone form, and that a dual-boot solution would carry less risk than an Android-only netbook. There's probably some truth to that, considering XP-based netbooks remain a much more popular choice than ones running Linux.
The downside to dual-booting is that Acer still has to factor in the cost of a Windows 7 license, so it seems pointless to toss an open-source OS into the fray without the benefity of a cost reduction. But Acer might be on to something by using Android as essentially a Splashtop replacement, which would count as an extra feature for those who planned on purchased a Windows 7-based netbook anyway.
What do you think about Acer's dual-OS netbook? Hit the jump and sound off!
Fresh from the rumor mill comes word that Barnes and Noble’s upcoming eReader may be running Android. This would certainly be a nice change of pace from the fairly low-power operating environments in other eBook readers.
Android seems like a great fit for eBook readers. It already has built-in support for wireless technology, and being open-source, a custom eReader interface could easily be added on top of Android. There could even be eReader specific apps in the Android Market. Not to mention, the modding possibilities are endless. This could mean a much more open environment than the tightly controlled Kindle model Amazon has gone with. Even if it isn’t so out of the box, it is Android. Someone will come along and hack it.
Barnes and Noble has released apps for both iPhone and Blackberry, but not Android. Perhaps this is why. The mysterious eReader may be announced next month, so we could know the truth soon.