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Google's Android To Challenge Windows? 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the depends-how-strong-the-android-is dept.
PL/SQL Guy writes "Search giant Google is set to offer its free Android mobile-phone operating system for computers, opening a new front in its rivalry with Microsoft by challenging the dominance of the company's Windows software. Acer Inc., the world's second-largest laptop maker, will release a low-cost notebook powered by Android next quarter, said Jim Wong, head of information-technology products at the Taipei-based company. Calvin Huang, an analyst at Daiwa Securities Group Inc, says that adoption of Android-based netbooks will likely eat into Windows' share of PC operating systems." Meanwhile, notes reader Barence, Asus is continuing to distance itself from Android, saying it "isn't a priority."
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Google's Android To Challenge Windows?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:32PM (#28197307) Journal

    Meanwhile, notes reader Barence, Asus is continuing to distance itself from Android, saying it "isn't a priority."

    I think the article you wanted to link there was Asus distances itself from Android netbook [pcpro.co.uk].

    That's odd considering the story we discussed yesterday [slashdot.org] in which Qualcomm showed an eee PC (an Asus product) running Android with an ARM processor. And in the Bloomberg article (which also mentions that), "Asustek said in February its engineers were trying to develop an Android-based netbook this year."

    The comments of Jonathan Tsang, vice chairman of Asus, don't convince me. Actions speak louder than words. Hint: When you release an ARM Processor based chipset in a netbook, you're actually distancing yourself from Windows and x86 applications.

    What he means to say is "everything's ready, just don't alarm our Redmond masters [slashdot.org] until we're sure the consumer likes Android."

  • Symbian? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drolli (522659) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:34PM (#28197351) Journal

    Right now, Android is more a rival for symbian than for Windows.

    • Re:Symbian? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:37PM (#28197399)

      I agree. Women would never again buy Sybian [wikipedia.org] devices if they could be sexually serviced by a full-sized android a la the Kubrick/Spielberg film A.I..

      Oh, wait, you said Symbian. Oops.

  • Open vs Closed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    Here we have a very interesting inversion of the typical Open vs Closed debate. Although Windows itself may be a closed source OS, it is actually a very open system. And although Android is built on layers of open source components, it is fundamentally a closed system (like iPhone).

    The target audience for Android PCs would be one which needs a dedicated internet browsing device. Anything more would mean that they would be looking at Windows.

    This strategy has been tried several times before. And it has faile

    • Re:Open vs Closed (Score:5, Informative)

      by FranTaylor (164577) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:39PM (#28197435)

      "Anyone can take the Android platform and add code or download it to create a mobile device without restrictions," Google said in an e-mail. "We look forward to seeing what contributions are made and how an open platform spurs innovation."

      • Is this your first time reading a BadAnalogyGuy post? I'd post saying "whoosh" but I think that would be pointing out the obvious.
    • Re:Open vs Closed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:43PM (#28197501)

      I think the problem is that you can't produce the hardware cheap enough to make Windows compatibility a non-issue. If you could buy a typical sized netbook that could just do email and browse the internet (including supporting things like flash, like it or not) nobody would care which OS it used.

      • by ClosedSource (238333) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:45PM (#28197519)

        I forgot the most important part "for $99.95".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by FlyingBishop (1293238)

        I'm just going to buy one, and think of it as a high-end Smartphone. It may also function as a PC, but I'm mostly buying it to have a versatile, low-power media hub I can take with me anywhere.

        Flash is really slow, and I would really like for it to die before all the hardware catches up.

      • Is anyone really trying?

        The cheapest netbooks I can find on Amazon are around $250, with specs that are sufficient for Windows XP. The OLPC laptop reportedly costs around $200 these days (difficult to compare because it is not in the usual sales channels).

        I wonder how much you could squeeze the price with a cheaper processor (ARM?), less memory and a minimalistic Linux setup.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      How could the Bad Analogy Guy overlook the 'droid vs. Borg comparison?
      You're slipping badly there.
    • Er... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@@@keirstead...org> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @01:01PM (#28197795) Homepage

      In what way is Android a closed system? Anyone can write Android apps. The API is fully open. Anyone can publish them to the Google ap store. Or you can just install them individually like any application for any OS.

      I don't see how you can compare Android to the iPhone as both being closed. The iPhone is closed in every single way. Android in nearly none.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Reverend528 (585549) *

        I don't see how you can compare Android to the iPhone as both being closed. The iPhone is closed in every single way. Android in nearly none.

        Well, his name is "BadAnalogyGuy"...

      • by citizenr (871508)

        In what way is Android a closed system?

        can I touch kernel from userspace?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You dirty old man.

    • Re:Open vs Closed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @01:41PM (#28198399) Journal

      Although Windows itself may be a closed source OS, it is actually a very open system. And although Android is built on layers of open source components, it is fundamentally a closed system (like iPhone).

      This doesn't make much sense. If we're comparing OSes themselves, then neither one restricts application development or distribution. If we're comparing devices, then, obviously, it's quite possible to lock down Windows just as much as any other OS if the device manufacturer decides to do that - it's just that it's something much more common in phone/handheld market. I doubt that Android-based netbooks, for example, would be similarly locked down - it would fall short of the expectations consumers have of those devices, based on existing models.

  • How exactly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iampiti (1059688) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:50PM (#28197585)
    What does android has that linux doesn't?
    Linux has more software than android and if we're talking about familiarity the linux desktop is closer to windows than android.
    The android netbooks will be cheaper than the windows ones but, again, if that hasn't helped linux I don't see how it's going to help android.
    I'd like to see the microsoft dominance in the os market broken as much as anyone but I don't have much hope this is going to do it.
    • Re:How exactly? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Random2 (1412773) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:53PM (#28197645) Journal

      What does android has that linux doesn't?

      Google

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digsbo (1292334)
      Branding. Everybody knows Google. Not everybody knows Fedora/Ubuntu/Debian/Suse/Mandriva/should I continue?
      • by Krneki (1192201)
        And two other small things, money and experience.

        Anyway, I hope they can deliver us a proper UI, Ubuntu is cool, but there is still work to do.
    • "What does android has that linux doesn't?"

      Unity: as opposed to the fragmentation of Linux. Linux has ~1% of the desktop market and that is divided into a hundred fragments. I say this as someone who uses RH at work and Ubuntu at home (secondary boot to windows). I am not going to get into a back and forth over the benefit of the freedom to fork new things. Yep thats nice, but with the utter fragmentation reducing Linux to the ghetto forever, it has IMO relegated it to the backwaters forever.

      Name recognitio

    • by spuke4000 (587845)

      What does android has that linux doesn't?

      Cheezburger?

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      You realise that these days, if you see someone who never heard of Google you can safely call him a Luddite, right? Everyone knows who Google is, a lot of people even refer to their web browser as "Google". They have as much brand recognition if not more than Microsoft and Apple, and everyone knows that Google makes great services.

      Given how much muscle they can flex on any front if they really get into it, in 10 years even your mom will want a "Google laptop".

  • by HonkyLips (654494) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:51PM (#28197617)
    The biggest challenge facing Windows is its size and hardware requirements - as phones get smarter and netbooks become more popular then people will become accustomed to having a 'proper' computer on them at all time- for many people with an iPhone this is already happening. Even Miyamoto (the Nintendo guy) was talking today about broadening the range of applications available for the DS so that gamers begin to take them everywhere and use them for everything. It doesn't really matter whether it's a Nintendo DS, an Apple iPhone, a Palm Pre, a Blackberry or a netbook running Android- the key is portability. Portability is The Next Big Thing and in this market Windows does not seem to have a very attractive offering - Windows Mobile only makes headlines when it's market share is overtaken by something else.
    So personally I don't see Android as a specific challenge to Windows, I see Windows being challenged by a fundamental shift in computing - from the desktop to personal - and Windows biggest challenge in this area is probably itself and it's own bloated history.
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      The DS doesn't have enough battery life to handle that kind of usage, so it's foolish to try to sell those things for it. PSP is in the same boat, as are most notebooks, netbooks, etc.

      Hell, my Android phone -barely- has enough power to get through work, let alone a whole day. I've taken to carrying a rechargeable usb battery recharger with me when I won't be home all day. (Which, other than being heavy in your pocket, works quite well.)

    • by fm6 (162816)

      The biggest challenge facing Windows is its size and hardware requirements

      Well, most people would say its reliability and security issues. But I guess those are also effects of feature bloat, driven by a desire to please lots of diverse customers.

      Nobody seems immune from this. Apple people I know blame it for the meltdown in OS 8 development. I work at Sun, and I noticed that our latest crop of Sun Ray thin clients [sun.com] come with RS-232 ports — this at a time when such ports are disappearing from most products, including previous Sun Rays. When I asked about it, I was told that

    • I bought my son a DSi when I was in Hong Kong last March. It's a pretty impressive piece of hardware for something that inexpensive, and it makes a wonderful educational platform because of the touch screen. I can see the DSi mark 2 or so supporting GSM and being able to work as a video phone. It already has two cameras - one facing the user and one facing away - that would make it ideal for video phone calls so the person on the other end can see you and then you can say "Hey... look at this..." and just t

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:52PM (#28197623)

    Asus is continuing to distance itself from Android, saying it "isn't a priority."

    They're probably also thinking that those long-haired young guys calling themselves the "Beatles" aren't worth the investment in signing up with their company, either.

  • Pointless Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by CompMD (522020) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @01:34PM (#28198301)

    "Asus is continuing to distance itself from Android, saying it "isn't a priority.""

    If you follow the link from that quote in the summary, the word "Asus" isn't anywhere on the page.

  • (This is not intended to be a knock on Linux). Linux netbooks, after enjoying a brief marketshare spike when there was no alternative, are not popular with the majority of end-users. So what makes Google think that Android will do any better than Linux did? There's way more software for Linux than Android--and way more for Windows than Linux...

    Even if you add a way to connect to the Internet, why would Android be any better for Netbooks than Linux was? At least with Linux, and especially with Windows, I

  • Next Wave (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Old97 (1341297) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @01:47PM (#28198505)

    It seems to me that this is all part of the next wave of computing devices. The iPhone showed that portable computing device could be easy to use and fulfill a number of functions including cell phone, internet browser, applications platform and media player. It's not so much a smart phone as it is a computer. Google followed with Android. Nokia and RIM are now inspired to try to make their smartphone operating systems work the same way. They won't. They are going to have to adopt Android or develop new operating systems (Linux-based most likely) if they want to compete for the long term.

    The next step (this new wave) is to use the operating system developed for iPhone type devices on larger form factors better suited for more general purpose computing. The rumored Apple tablet and what is being announced here are just that. The approach of trying to fit a full desktop operating system on crapped-down hardware that conforms to a common PC form factor yielded netbooks. If you are used to a full blown laptop netbooks are very unsatisfying. Yet the need for a less expensive, useful and durable device with excellent battery life remains. I think that is what these new devices are trying to address and it makes sense to me that they are more likely to be successful.

    Microsoft, watch out. The growth in the computing market will be devices like these, not general purpose computers - desktops and laptops. These devices will be more reliant on browser based RIA apps (e.g. Javascript & HTML5) and web services than on native applications. General purpose PCs will still be around in large but stagnant numbers. If I'm making these more specialized devices, why would I pay for an operating system when I can get one for free? If the browser I put on my device meets all the requisite standards, you can no longer offer me the advantage of lot's of applications.

    But Microsoft is not stupid. The new Zune HD shows me that at least they are thinking about this market and how to compete in it.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @01:49PM (#28198539) Journal
    The Android based hand held device does not pose a direct threat to MSFT. But all it needs is just large enough market share to force MSFT to be standards compliant. MSFT cant keep changing internal file formats, APIs and other tricks to be eternally non standards compliant. If enough people use Android to check email, it will force MSExchange to be more open.

    Remember Firefox? Once it reached a 10% market share most websites started abandoning MSFT's walled garden and adopt standards. Same way if enough people migrate to Google docs, Open Office, Android etc etc, it will nail MSFT's underhanded tactics. If 10% of the people are using OpenOffice, they will interact with some 20% of the MsOffice market, and start demanding smooth file transfers. If 10% of the people use Android net book to take a quick look at MsOffice powerpoint it will force MSFT to at least allow a standard compliant export or standard compliant view only mode.

    That is all it takes to start shaking the monopoly. Once MSFT market share in Office and OS starts to dip below 80% it will get into a avalanche mode and drop to 40% in just 4 or 5 years.

  • by alispguru (72689) <bane@g s t .com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @01:58PM (#28198661) Journal

    If it looks like a portable computer (laptop/netbook), people will expect to see Windows on it, and the vast majority of them will run away if it doesn't have it.

    Alternative OSs have a chance on things that have the same compute power as a portable computer, but don't look like them.

    Android/Linux/OS X on smartphones or similar things will sell.

    I predict that whatever Apple does with all those 10" screens it it rumored to be buying, it won't look like a netbook.

  • The appropriate title for this should have been: "Is Android a Windows-Killer?"

    Come on, stick with the proper conventions.
  • No Way, Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:02PM (#28198715) Homepage

    Who didn't see this coming? But I think the smarter route is to start it as purely a mobile (smartphone/netbook) OS, work out the kinks and extend it THEN break it out as a full fledged OS. You'd hit the ground running, people already familiar with it, apps developed for it, etc. Then crush Microsoft's grapes.

  • At last! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:12PM (#28198813)

    I just realised a few days ago that there was something wrong with the desktop OS market: you have a declining giant which held until now pretty much 98% of its market (non-Mac PC market), a strong but much smaller giant which is much more limited in how it can eat the big declining giant because he requires buying a whole new machine (and doesn't even cover all the ranges of machines, i.e. hardly any low end machines), and the rest, which is the tiny Linux and BSD guys who can't do much because well, none of them are anywhere near being giants.

    So I thought something is missing, cause if the big giant is declining fast, then another giant has to help him lose its market share. Apple can only do it in a very limited manner, and even if desktop Linux was ready as a product it just isn't pushed into the desktop OS market by a giant.

    And there comes Google and its Android platform. If they are actually going for the desktop market, and if they do things right, then I believe that within a few years they'll manage to relieve Microsoft from a portion of their desktop OS share that we'd consider quite significant by our current standards (understand 5-10% in 5 years), and in the long term they may turn out to be the ones who break the Windows' image of being the big OS you can't do without.

    That's a huge challenge, but the thing about Google is, they're fucking huge now, but their biggest thing is still by far their web searching, and they're as big as one can be there, so I think they need something else that is huge to get into. Taking a shot at replacing Windows on desktops/laptops/netbooks seems like a logical choice.

  • Two things:

    1. People don't buy operating systems, they buy applications. Yet another OS is not interesting.

    2. Handhelds and netbooks are getting more powerful with every new product. At some point, they can run Windows without sacrificing the "user experience." Small fast OS' have a fleeting advantage.

  • Does Android have games? Not Flash games and Solitaire, but WoW and the latest closed source FPS released for Windows. Does Android have photography workflow software? CAD? Anything that's not an internet product, office product, or a widget?

    Hrm... I see. Well, if I want an OS that lets me chat, email, and surf the net then I'll install Ubuntu.
  • by docbrody (1159409)
    These smartphone touch based OSs like Android and iPhoneOS bode well for a market segment that just never took off... Tablet Computing.

    Bill Gates was a big believer in the Tablet form factor, but it never took off because it used the Windows UI (Start Bar, icons, windows), AND because it basically requires the use of a stylus. Now Bill Gates may be the kind of guy who has his shit together enough to not lose his stylus constantly, but a lot of the rest of us do not. If there is one thing you have to gi
  • by snydeq (1272828) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @03:06PM (#28199487)
    Lost perhaps in the fervor over "eating into Windows' share of PC operating systems" is the fact that Microsoft doesn't seem to -- or doesn't want to appear to seem to -- care.

    Although it may be a case of CYA, or a byproduct of some Wintel partnership fine print, Microsoft has said it has no plans to port a PC version of Windows over to the ARM core, in a sense leaving the whole "smartbooks" market Linux and Android [infoworld.com].

    And though it may be true that an Intel deal, a desire not to eat into its own Windows netbook/notebook revenue, or the difficulty of porting a worthwhile version of Windows to ARM is at the heart of this deference to Android, you have to wonder whether there is some grain of truth to the fact that it is 'hard to create new categories' of technology, as Microsoft is claiming in relation to its stated disinterest in "smartbooks."
  • Missing the Point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by salesgeek (263995) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:31PM (#28202699) Homepage

    There is such a misunderstanding of what is going on with netbooks. There are two markets developing, and they could not be more different. The most important difference is who the customer really is:

    Consumers (meaning you and me) are buying cheap, small, wimpy laptops. This is the market that is going crazy right now as people are buying $279 netbooks instead of $500 laptops. (Windows is a plus here as it protects the buyer's investment in legacy software). For most netbook buyers, it's either a compliment to their desktop or it is the primary machine for a non power user. Linux is important in this market because MS was forced to allow XP to be sold as Vista was too heavy, and will continue to be too heavy. In fact, MS had end of lifed XP before allowing netbook manufacturers to distribute with their computers.

    - and -

    Cell phone carriers are buying connected netbooks. Cell carriers want to sell these inexpensive netbooks locked on to their network. It's a way to sell another connection to you for $50/month using their traditional loss leader strategy (have a $250 phone for free, just pay us $50/month for two years). Windows is a liability here as it takes a lot more end user support than a purpose built environment like Android. Windows also just can't be locked down like Android either (this is considered good. Android is not itself a consumer product, but Android applications are). Most software is going to be either small applications that are installed on the netbook or bigger ones that are provided via browser (Google Apps). Android is built to deliver internet based applications and distribute applications in a way that limits the need for technical support. In other words: it's amazingly easy to use for end users and doesn't break in ways that reqire support calls. It also can be locked down to the carrier's needs (doing so may limit what Google software may be shipped with the device).

  • by Celeste R (1002377) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:35PM (#28203595)

    If people want Windows, they can have Windows. However, I'll be more than happy to stick with the rarely-used Windows installation I already have.

    How often do you use a full-blown OS while you're waiting at the fast food line? Not very often, I'll bet. Why not simply leave the bloat at home or in the office? Most of us would be happy with relatively simple things like a good web browser, email reader, and a cheap old rich text editor, and if you're going to blur the lines between phone and netbook, why not add phone functions to that list? All of those things are things that will come to Android, and it basically takes care of the "necessities" on the go.

    As far as the luxuries on the go, you might be able to squeeze a DVD drive into that sub-netbook. Wireless connectivity can be used to connect to the heavier iron, making things that people use at work and home accessible (take for example: MS Office or programming tasks).

    VNC is not out of the question; the most you may have to do is bring your little charger around with you. The bigger question than VNC is how to make it accessible to the masses? I'd think that's easy. Google has the connectedness to be able to tell one computer where to find another computer, all you'd need is the connecting software. Granted, it's not quite like having a laptop right in front of you, but it allows the casual person to be able to take care of things at home, including checking on the shopping list.

    Let's face it; we're not limited to the world of x86 netbooks. smartbooks (or sub-netbooks) can be the tool of choice; capable of things that you wouldn't even be able to do casually with your favorite phone or Windows-based laptop variant. I know that I'd ditch my laptop for a smartbook that can do the works, even if I have to do some things remotely.

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