Google phone OS to transform Linux netbooks, says researcher
Windows for mini-laptops, Android for appliances
Google's Android will be the saviour of the Linux netbook, and we'll start to see small, cheap computers based on the phone-oriented operating system later this year.
So suggested market watcher Ovum today after claiming that, despite the early sales successes of Linux-based netbooks, they're now being outsold by Windows-loaded versions.
Ovum's argument is that netbook buyers seeking a small and/or cheap laptop will generally opt for Windows machines - presumably for the familiarity and software compatibility the MS OS brings.
Linux's opportunity here is to become the basis for the netbook as internet appliance, Ovum said.
We'd note that's exactly what Linux has almost always been on netbooks, which is why the main suppliers of Linux-based SCCs - Acer and Asus - and others opted for relatively unknown distros rather than big names like Ubuntu or Fedora.
They wanted to create cheap machines with a fixed set of software functions, and for that a tailored Linux distro is ideal. In turn, this kind of 'appliance' notion is perfect for certain user groups - kids, for instance - who will use the machine as is and won't be wanted to download and install extra apps. These groups were the people netbooks were originally aimed at.
Over time, netbooks have become viewed more as little laptops than get-online devices, and that's favoured partly more mainstream Linux distros but mostly Windows XP.
But, says Ovum, netbooks span the space between laptops and smartphones too. A shift in the direction of phones rather than PCs favours Linux over Windows and, because the devices are more fixed-function, less general purpose tools in that segment of the market, more appliance-like, less document- and file-centric versions of the open source OS will be preferred.
Enter Android, which has a Linux foundation but a more tightly controlled user environment on top that will allow netbook makers to limit the roles their devices can be put to in order to better define them as internet appliances.
Chuck in the Android app store and you can give punters ways to stretch the boundaries a bit, so they're not entirely restricted to the functions the vendors think they need.
Ovum said it expects "back-to-basics" netbooks to appear later this year at the $200 (£142/€154) mark - half the price of the majority of today's netbooks. ARM chip makers are keen to get in on the act alongside Intel's x86-based Atom, and vendors are looking at ways of broadening their product portfolios.
They particularly want to increase battery life and deliver fast start-up times, which may also favour ARM/Android designs. That, in turn, is one reason why Intel is so keen on the Linux-based Moblin distro. ®
Android, originally for the mobile market. Netbooks, mostly a mobile platform. Not really a games machine... That said, I'm pretty sure Java has an obscene market share in mobile gaming anyway. I don't think many will be complaining too hard.
Re: Is C++ available on Android based netbooks?
You are confusing mass market with a minority of power users. Manufacturers do not care about the irritating people who want free access to hardware.
See also: iPhone, jailbreaking the.
Is C++ available on Android based netbooks?
I understand that the only development language available on Android based mobile phones is Android Java.
If it was possible to write C++ applications for a mobile phone then hackers could use them to hijack the phone. By limiting the phone user to Java applications it is possible to ensure that applications are suitably constrained by the Java vistual machine.
Unfortunately many users of Android based netbooks would want to write high performance C++ applications such as games. These users might be disapointed by the restrictions of running Android on their netbook.
Why so cheap?
"Ovum said it expects "back-to-basics" netbooks to appear later this year at the $200 (£142/€154) mark"
How so? The linux-based netbooks are not $200, so what makes Ovum think Android versions will be any different? It's the hardware that's the limiting factor for the cost of a netbook and since they will almost certainly use Atom processors or the AMD equivalent, I doubt they'll sell for less.
Why the need to lock it down?
I have a G1 with Android on it. It runs on Linux, yet I had to root it to get normal Linux functionality. I have Eeebuntu on my EeePC, and I'm quite happy with it. My only complaint is with the way Gnome handles maximized windows. If the window's too big, clicking anywhere will scroll the window up/down, but that makes it difficult to actually click on buttons and checkboxes in the app. Thinking about trying KDE or Fluxbox on it, but I have limited hd space to work with. Anyhoo, why lock it down and limit functionality? What's next, adding a 3 app rule?