Acer: Android netbook coming in Q3
Rumours of Windows' death very greatly exaggerated
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. ®
I guess no one else enjoyed the 'instant-on' capabilities of the Psion line of computers. For me and many others that plus the long battery life (40 hours on a pair of AAs -- can be bought anywhere in the world and swapped in when you run out of batteries) was the real killer application; oh, and a proper keyboard and decent screen and flash memory, hence no moving parts and very rugged construction. With the 'instant on' of an ARM processor (it didn't actually switch off, simply powered down to an extremely low power state and powered up again effectively instantly) it was possible to turn the computer off and save battery life while one paused to consider one's next sentence. In fact the 40 hour life of the original Psion S5 translated to about a month's usage for me between battery changes. The faster and more power hungry 5mx needed new batteries every two weeks.
It is incredible that people are touting four and five hour battery lives - or even eight - as marvellous, when the machines still need to be dragged back to a power socket if one is to continue working (and have you seen the size of the batteries!). I want to be able to go away on vacation without bringing a power charger, safe in the knowledge that my batteries will last the whole vacation and in case they don't I can buy a pair of AAs should I need them. I guess that's why I'm still using my Psions.
So to the poster who couldn't understand why anyone would want a computer that used a non-x86 processor, I suggest that there may be more usage scenarios for computers than they are capable of imagining. (Think people away from power sources, in cars, on boats, camping, in the third world, hiking, cycling, etc. etc.)
All the best.
Patric wrote: "Why on earth are we going backwards with cpus etc."
Backwards? Moving from x86 to ARM is a step forwards. x86 started as 8086, which was a minimal 16-bit extension of Intel's 8080 processor (it was even assembly code compatible) and has had 32-bit extensions clamped on later, so it is a horrible mess.
ARM, on the other hand, was designed from the start to be a 32-bit architecture, and as such is much cleaner (though some extensions has been clamped on this too).
As for processor speed, the newest ARMs (Snapdragon and Tegra) can easily compete with Intel's Atom, and the coming Cortex A9 processors will be similar to Intel's desktop processors in power.
@JahBless and Re: Evidence
Linux power users… what’s that... Maybe about 1% of the market at best? Not sure such paltry demand will be the prime driver for the manufacturers! Though I think JahBless answered AC’s question (Title: “Evidence?”) in that yes, techies started the trend but mainstream public demanded Windows because their experience didn’t extend to using the crap Linux distros in the netbooks. Of course, JahBless has also managed to extend the stereotype by shovelling all non-Linux users into the stupid, dumb (l)user category, then wonders why the mainstream public dislike the attitude of most Linux users and their superiority complex…
Where is the actual evidence that everyone wants Windows installed on their netbook? I think it's far more likely that bribes/bullying/pressure from Microsoft is the reason why Windows has taken over from Linux in the netbook arena.
"Why on earth are we going backwards with cpus etc. its a joke."
My guess is extended battery life and the ability to do away with cooling fans.