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Summary:

Last week’s Google Chrome OS announcement doesn’t seem to be impacting prior plans for Android netbooks. DigiTimes indicates that Acer is still planning to launch a dual-boot netbook that offers both Microsoft Windows XP and Google Android. I don’t envision any cost difference between an XP/Android […]

acer-aspire-one-10-inchLast week’s Google Chrome OS announcement doesn’t seem to be impacting prior plans for Android netbooks. DigiTimes indicates that Acer is still planning to launch a dual-boot netbook that offers both Microsoft Windows XP and Google Android. I don’t envision any cost difference between an XP/Android netbook and an XP-only device — the cost of a Windows XP license has to be paid in both cases. So there’s no benefit in terms of cost, but there is a value-add in having another operating system for those that want it. Or is there?

I’m not sure I understand why Acer is continuing to pursue the Android angle. It will offer the company some hands on-time to integrate a Google operating system with its hardware. But Android is ideally suited for ARM-based devices, and Google has made it clear that Chrome OS is their future for netbooks. Heck, Acer is even one of the hardware vendors that have already signed on for Chrome OS.

If Acer wants to kick Android’s tires on their netbooks in a limited, or behind closed door environment, that’s fine. But what will consumers gain from a Windows XP netbook with Android on another partition? I suspect that people will add Android to their Acer netbook simply because there’s no additional charge. They’re going to get something that they don’t understand to begin with, and eventually will end up confused. If that happens, there’s risk that they equate a bad experience with “the Google OS” even though this isn’t the OS that Google ultimately plans for netbooks.

The timing of this also seems strange to me. Acer is planning to drop these “XP-droid” machines in August, but Windows 7 launches in October. Right about now should be the time to integrate the new Microsoft operating system, not use one from eight years ago as a main course with a smartphone OS for dessert. Sure, a company can work on multiple integration projects at once, but the future for netbooks isn’t in XP any more than it’s in Android.

For us techies, adding Android to a netbook has a certain fun factor. We add operating systems to different devices just to play and learn. I’ve done this very thing with various Linux builds and Mac OS X on my netbook. But just because we do these things doesn’t mean the consumer-at-large wants or needs them. I’m scratching my head over this move by Acer. Have I overlooked something here?

  1. Because your lame arguments s.u.c.k big times! For most users it simply ‘wayne’ = /dev/null what you wanna-be-geeks want to play with. Get a life and be happy – even with XP and Android! Peace!

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  2. I can see Acer continuing to offer Android on their netbooks, even after ChromeOS begins to ship.

    Why not?

    Acer would have a netbook perfectly suited for mobile operators, because:

    1. Android enables the support of cell phone calls, SMS/MMS, LBS, etc., from which mobile operators can generate additional revenue.

    2. Operators will already have Android smartphone experience & apps that can be utilized on other Android-based devices.

    As much as I like ChromeOS, I think Android also has a great future in smartbook/netbooks/MID/eReader/etc. devices (especially with Android 2.0 supporting a broader range of display resolutions). I guess it will be up to the device vendors to decide which one makes more sense for the type of device they are trying to build.

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  3. I seem to be missing something. I thought ChromeOS was not even going to be released until the second half of NEXT year. As far as I’m concerned (and probably non-techies, too), ChromeOS is “vaporware”.
    Would have Acer (and the other netbook vendors) shut down their operations until ChromeOS comes out???

    We use netbooks extensively for some of our specialized field operations. We use XP on them to be able to run apps that were developed for, and used by our office desktops. As I see it, ChromeOS will just about be totally “useless” to us, when we are at a powerstation in East BF Egypt, and there’s NO Internet connectivity to be had for over 200 miles in any direction (for some reason, most peeps don’t want powerstations in there back yards). Unless Google has some miracle formula, without the Internet, ChromeOS isn’t much use.

    If Acer, et al, stop making netbooks until late next year, it means lugging bigger iron to remote places, instead of food and water.

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  4. Doug Mohney Friday, July 17, 2009

    Uh, faster boot time than XP, so you can go do a quickie web page or Tweet?

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    1. Definitely a good reason Doug, but those solutions already exist in Phoenix Hyperspace and DeviceVM Splashtop. In fact, Acer already has a deal to put Splashtop on Acer devices, although it will be rebranded “RevoBoot”

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