Lenovo Delays U1 Hybrid, Skylight for Android

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Two of the most interesting gadgets we saw early this year at the CES in Las Vegas were both from Lenovo. The Skylight is Lenovo’s entry into the smartbook realm, and was shown to us running a Lenovo-developed variant of Linux. The U1 Hybrid is the innovative notebook with the detachable screen that can be used as a slate. The slate part of the U1 was running the same Linux variant in the Skylight, while the notebook base was running Windows 7. These two groundbreaking products have been delayed by Lenovo according to Laptop Magazine, and the reason is significant. Despite the fact that Lenovo’s Linux variant was ready to go to market back in January, the company is now going to drop it to use Android.

There is no denying that Android is the hottest ticket in town when it comes to mobile gadget platforms. It is widely known that in addition to all of the smartphones being released with Android, numerous tablets are in the process of being readied ready for market bearing the OS. While it makes perfect sense for Lenovo to choose to switch to Android for these two gadgets, it is surprising given they were both virtually ready for market with Linux.

This move to Android is particularly interesting on the U1 Hybrid, which is a dual-OS device. Lenovo showed us how the Linux slate operating system was in constant communication with the Windows 7 base. While surfing a given web site on the Linux slate, when the display was inserted back into the notebook base Windows would automatically have the same web page open in Internet Explorer. The goal was to make the two parts of the whole work as one, even though two distinct operating systems were in play.

This makes me wonder how the new Android version of the U1 will operate. Can Android be in constant communication with Windows 7 as in the demonstration with Linux? Or perhaps Lenovo is going to drop using Windows 7 in the notebook base? Maybe we’ll see a Chrome OS notebook base and an Android slate display? It is intriguing to be certain.

Engadget is now reporting that while the Skylight will likely appear in an Android version, the more interesting U1 Hybrid may never see the light of day. A statement from Lenovo refers to the U1 as a “concept”, certainly not what we were told in January.

Lenovo remains committed to working with our strategic partners to deliver innovative products in the growing mobile internet space, including the aforementioned smartphones and smartbooks, as well as exploring innovative new concepts that continue to “push-the-envelope” like the U1 hybrid PC.

Have a look at the CES video to see why these two gadgets are of interest.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): To Win In the Mobile Market, Focus On Consumers

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