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Intel's Android efforts: products, please, not prototypes

Is it really news that Intel is encouraging Asian netbook and tablet makers to use its processors in their Android products, as Taiwan's DigiTimes and the many sites citing it believe?

We'd think it news if the chip giant wasn't making such a move.

Intel is in the business of selling processors, and that means - in part - persuading Asian computer manufacturers to build their products around them. With netbooks, it was successful, offering a standard spec its customers to build to, first with Celeron M chips then the Atom family.

These products ended up running Windows, but many started out as Linux machines. Intel was cool with that - even if Microsoft wasn't - and it's cool with Android.

It has to be. Vendors consider it an important operating system, but it's associated with a processor platform that Intel doesn't own: ARM. If the chip giant doesn't get with the programme, it knows it risks ceding a market to a rival.

That is not Intel's way of doing business.

But that doesn't mean it will be successful. DigiTimes' story says a number of Taiwanese manufacturers will demo Intel-based Android tablets and netbooks at next month's Beijing-hosted Intel Developer Forum. Failing that, they'll do so a Computex, held in June in Taipei.

We've seen this before, though. Intel touts platform, and shows off vendors' offerings during an IDF or Computex keynote. Journalists descend upon the stage at the end of the spiel, take lots of pictures and give the machines a big write up.

But do those machines ship? Most do not.

Intel's stand at this past January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had a section devoted to tablets. Most of them were also shown at Computex, some at the previous year's CES. None are readily available - outside China at least.

When Intel and its partners - big name ones, with worthy market shares, not little known Taiwanese contract manufacturers - actually ship x86-based Android-running tablets, then we'll consider it news.

Apple's Japanese iPad setback: first deadline to fall?

Speaking of ARM-based tablets, Apple has decided to delay the Japanese iPad 2 launch.

Well, what else could it do? It's selling out of the "magical" tablets in the US, where the gadget went on sale this past Friday, and leaving many would-be buyers empty handed.

This happened last time round, and Apple's keenness to sate the demands of its US fans led it to disappoint punters in other countries. International release dates were put back so all the units rolling off the production lines could be shipped to the States.

Come the second-gen iPad - and come the first international release delay. We forecast other countries will soon see lines struck through the 25 March entry on their local Apple team's calendar and new, later dates pencilled in.

This nasty earthquake business hasn't helped, of course. ®

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