Could some of the biggest boosts yet for Google’s open-source Android operating system, outside the realm of smartphones, come from unlikely sidekicks: Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 7 OS and offbeat new processors? That’s worth thinking about in the wake of Acer’s announcement today that it is doing a version of its popular Aspire One netbooks that will dual-boot Android and Windows 7. Acer has previously announced that it intends to incorporate Android in a broad range of its products, turning its attention away from Windows Mobile. The company also announced today a new smartphone, dubbed Liquid, that incorporates the trendy Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. How can Android benefit from Acer’s backing across product lines, and what does this mean for new chips and Google’s upcoming Chrome OS for netbooks?
In announcing the new Aspire One netbook that can dual-boot Android and Windows, Acer is positioning Android as a quick-in, quick-out OS , similar to the Linux-based Splashtop OS, and other instant-on offerings. Splashtop has been popular with many users who don’t want to wait for a lengthy Windows boot-up when they just want to get online to check something, IM or send an email. Acer’s announcement of its new Aspire One says this:
It offers the immediacy, the ultrafast connectivity and speed of Android for instant access to web browsing, emails and social interaction together with the full and reliable productivity of the Windows environment, simply by clicking to switch OS. Boot up the Acer Aspire One with Android in a matter of seconds for ultrafast connectivity. When you need top productivity, just switch OS to take advantage of Windows 7 functionalities. There is not even a need to reboot. Plus, all Internet connections established on the Android platform remain up and running even if you reboot the netbook or suspend the session.
I have to say that the almost heavy-handed Windows 7 vs. Android differentiation language there is almost an insult to Android. I’m thinking of phrases such as “when you need top productivity” [switch to Windows 7] and the “full and reliable productivity of the Windows environment.” Still, Windows 7 is seen as having extremely bright prospects on netbooks, and Android was largely written off as a possible netbook OS in the wake of Google’s Chrome OS announcement. (Chrome OS is aimed squarely at netbooks.)
Outside of the boost that Android could get as a dual-boot OS on Windows 7 systems, Acer’s new phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip points to the fact that Android may usher in many opportunities for new chips and smartphone platforms. Each week is starting to open up new horizons for Android (GigaoM Pro subscription required), and it’s easy to forget that the operating system didn’t even gain its first users until last year. Google’s Chrome OS won’t arrive until next year, and one has to wonder how many milestones Android will hit by then.