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Acer: Android netbook coming in Q3

Rumours of Windows' death very greatly exaggerated

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Acer will indeed make and sell an Android-based netbook, a company executive has said. We're just unconvinced it'll be any more successful than its Linux netbooks.

The confirmation came from Acer's head of IT products, Jim Wong, by way of Bloomberg. Wong said the Android netbook will debut in Q3, the newsagency reports.

We can't wait to see it and try it out. It might even replace our original Aspire One netbook. But we're sceptical the machine's arrival will suddenly replace Windows.

The AA1 is why. When it was released it was made available with a choice of Linux or Windows XP. Every model Acer has introduced since then has been Windows XP only, and the Microsoft OS is by wide margin the more commonplace operating system on netbooks from other vendors.

To be fair, netbook versions of Linux have primarily been unusual distros with easy-access UIs rather than standard desktops, but even netbook makers who've offered full versions of Ubuntu or SuSE haven't exactly established them at the forefront of their line-ups.

Netbooks, unlike smartphones - where Android is going to be big - have a form-factor that steers owners into usage patterns that favour Windows. They look like laptops, and lots of punters want to do laptop things on them. For most of those people, that means running software they already run on a Windows laptop or desktop.

Like it or not, the majority of netbook buyers want the familiarity and access to a broad range of applications that Windows brings. Reg readers may be different, but we're not the target audience. All the evidence suggests consumers favour Windows.

Android isn't going to persuade them otherwise, any more than Linux did.

Asus, like Acer, has a prototype netbook running Android, this time on a Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM processor. But the company has said this is just a proof of concept machine, not an indication that it too is about to launch Android-based systems.

We can certainly see companies like Acer releasing Android netbooks to test the level of demand, but we're not convinced they're going to be hugely successful unless they manage to offer a battery life well in excess of what Atom-based XP machines offer today.

But that demand will come in spite of Android, not because of it. Ditto if it sells by the bucketload because it's cheap, which was why the original 7in, Linux-only Eee PC did so well. ®

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