With Android-based netbooks being a possibility in the near future, it may come as no surprise that Asus is working on a low-cost laptop powered by Google's Android OS. Asus introduced the popular Eee subnotebook running Linux, so Android may be a natural (evolution?) fit for a new low-cost subnotebook.
The advantages to Asus for using Android are several:
Android is open, so no licensing fees
Google / Android branding = name recognition
Third-party software availability
Android familiarity due to Asus Android smartphone development
Having recently browsed the aisles of Costco, I discovered an Acer netbook running Windows for only $299. In order to capture market share and divert would-be Windows users to an Android-powered subnotebook, what kind of price range can we expect for an Asus Android-powered laptop? $199? $99??
It seems that the Google Android OS, the platform touted as being open for all, is a little less open for some than others. If you own an unlocked developer G1 Android phone, even those received by Google employees, you may be missing out on some paid apps in the Android Market.
So far, apps like Shazam and Calorie Counter only appear as free apps - at least they do on my unlocked G1. According to Google's Android Market help site, “copy-protected applications, including Shazam and Calorie Counter” are invisible to unlocked developer phones. I guess the developer phones make it easier to commit pirating mayhem. Hopefully this issue will be remedied quickly because those with developer and unlocked phones should find this untenable. If you have an unlocked or developer G1, are you missing anything?
There's a pretty good article over at GigaOM that touches on the Open vs Closed argument of technology. Specifically, it pits Android and iPhone against each other because of the obvious contrasting strategies and philosophies behind their parent companies, Google and Apple.
We can't deny that the iPhone is wildly successful in spite of (or because of?) their closed, proprietary nature. It's essentially the dilemma that iPhone users have been trying to find the balance to--the iPhone's closed nature creates a clean, seamless and synergetic user experience but it often comes at the expense of the freedom of choice. You have to trust Apple enough to play nice and take a leap of faith with the direction of the iPhone.
But does that leave Google free and clear? According to GigaOM: hardly. The point has been driven before but Android isn't married to a specific hardware form factor, any philosophical software, or well, anything, for that matter. Google has made it loud and clear that Android is open source and that it can be shaped however the user base intends to shape it. But does that openness come at the expense of the user experience? Google can't remain fully "open" for fear of fracturing that holy grail of user experience. In a sense, GigaOM is advising Google to remain open with limits; implementing a sort of theoretically open playground that would still necessitate rules and fair play.
And though we believe Android is unique and its ceiling is higher than its competitors because of that "openness", we tend to agree with GigaOM: that Google needs to set "parameters" with Android because mobile platforms are all about predictability and user friendliness and less about openness. In a sense, being open is good, being less than fully "open" is better.
The general public wants a phone to act and react a certain way, and without a certain amount of consistency in the platform--it can create a jagged experience that turns off many. Sure, a lot of people complain about the iPhone's stringent app approval process but there's certainly a lot more who are happy with just how easy and simple everything else works. It's going to be dangerous territory for Android to tread because the tech savvy will be undoubtedly saddened if Google closes its openness but the more general public may see it as a heck of a lot more friendly.
GigaOM sums it up best:
The reality is that openness is just an attribute -– it’s not an outcome, and customers buy outcomes. They want the entire solution and they want it to work predictability. Only a tiny minority actually cares about how or why it works. It’s little wonder, then, that the two device families that have won the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of consumers, developers and service providers alike (i.e., BlackBerry and iPhone) are the most deeply integrated from a hardware, software and service layer perspective.
We know it's a lot to digest but we want to know what do you guys think. Open or closed? Android or iPhone? Does it even matter?
Remember Huawei's Android Phone at MWC? It was shrouded in mystery because though it was on display, it was merely a non-working prototype. We had originally reported that Huawei expected to release the device in Q3 2009 and that time frame is starting to look more and more like a reality.
According to SlashGear, Huawei has signed a deal with T-Mobile to bring this iPhone-esque device stateside by, you guessed it, Q3 2009. According to the article we can expect more from Huawei and T-Mobile. However, the Android device will likely carry another company's brand name (no information on which one yet).
We're not sure how we feel about this device because though it certainly is pretty, the one-button iPhone shtick isn't exactly suited for the Android OS. We need menu buttons, back buttons, and home buttons people! What do you guys think?
Raise your hand if you heard this before. Company X announces multiple Android Devices, said Android Devices will ship in 2nd half 2009. Yeap. We're going down the all too familiar road, this time the company is LG and they're promising THREE Android Devices this year. One of which should release by June with two following later in the year. As always, we'll keep an eye on this for you guys. 2009 looks to be a huge year for Android!
As great as Firefox is for desktop web browsing, right now, it's just as bad for mobile browsing. Okay, it's not that bad. But really, Firefox Mobile (they dropped the Fennec moniker to prevent confusion) is at such an infantile stage that it's hardly relevant in the scope of mobile web browsers.
But not all hope is lost because the Firefox Mobile team has some pretty great ideas about mobile web browsing. They want to build Firefox Mobile on the same pillars of the desktop Firefox: include the "awesome bar" where the url bar doubles as a search bar, maintain the security of Firefox, and more importantly and dramatically, include add-ons.
The bigger question is will all that potentially great stuff come to Android? The answer: not in the near future. According to Mozilla's head of business:
"The BlackBerry platform is basically a Java environment that they expose to application developers, and we're not written in Java, so that's tricky. The same is true for Android, so you won't see our mobile browser on Android for the moment"
I guess it doesn't hurt to wait for a Firefox Mobile because it's clearly not ready for prime time yet but we're going to be VERY disappointed if it never supports Android. What do you guys think? Anyone interested in using Firefox Mobile?
This week we'll be bringing you more of the same, of course. Be sure you are paying special attention to CrackBerry.com, as this will be a HUGE week for CrackBerry Nation. This coming Thursday, February 26th, the site officially turns 2 years old!! And when CrackBerry.com turns another year older, it doesn't mean a day of celebrating, it means a week birthday festivities! Whether you're a BlackBerry owner or not you'll want to stay glued to the site for great contests, deals and giveaways each and every day. If you're not a daily visitor but want to follow the action, you can always subscribe to the CrackBerry RSS feeds or follow the site on Twitter at @crackberry.
PreCentral.net was also in on the Mobile World Congress action, where Dieter got a chance to get his mitts (barely) on the GSM Palm Pre. We also brought you a Full Palm Pre Feature Roundup and learned that Palm and O'Reilly have begun releasing a ton of development information for the webOS. We still don't have a release date for the Palm Pre pinned down, but after getting another chance to see it in person (in GSM no less!), we have to say we're starting to get antsy!
Over at TreoCentral we heard that the Treo Pro might be available through Bell Canada on February 27th for as low as $99.95, with a 3-year plan. We also learned that while at MWC, ACCESS announced and demonstrated a broad range of mobile solutions, including Version 3.0 of the Access Linux Platform (ALP), which was announced in October. ALP supports "Hollywood-style" graphics and add LiMo (Linux Mobile) support while retaining compatibility for the legacy Garnet OS.
Life at WMExperts last week could be summed up in three words: Mobile World Congress. And our own Dieter Bohn was there in Barcelona, Spain. The biggest announcement of the event was Microsoft and Windows Mobile 6.5.. HTC also was there, announcing the Touch Pro 2 and the Touch Diamond 2. Dieter logged a total of 528 miles on the showroom floor and saw too much new stuff to round up in this space, but you can find all of the Mobile World Congress coverage here.
Several days ago we reported that Freescale has developed a system-on-chip (SoC) for Android, opening up netbook possibilities. Desiring to carve out their share of the netbook pie, Glen Burchers, Marketing Director for Freescale, hinted at a summer 2009 availability and a price point of around $199. Providing a little something stronger than a hint, he said:
“Nobody needs this stuff but they want it, everybody wants it. And at the price point of $199, it’s a great Christmas present or birthday present.”
If the mention of Christmas present is a little more than a cliché, then the summer timeframe for a Freescale Netbook seems feasible. His assertion that nobody "needs" a netbook is probably true, but his further assertion that we "want" it is pretty accurate also. The summer timeframe is questionable, but an Android netbook will come our way sooner or later. Do you "need" or "want" a netbook running Android? [phandroid]
Since it's Friday (yeah!) we have some cool bit of news for you guys. It's not everyday we hear about a celebrity/athlete/personality using a T-Mobile G1 so when we do, we pay close attention. Crackberry can have their celeb sightings because we'll take the biggest (literally) star on the planet: Shaquille O'neal!
As I pulled out my phone to take a picture he snatched it out of my hand and inspected it.
"What's this got? Windows Mobile?"
He gave it the once over before handing it back and showing off his Google Phone.
I loved Shaq before, but now knowing that he's a fellow Android user?! Imagining his huge hands trying to type on the G1 keyboard? Complaining about the 'chin'? The possibilities are endless. In the end, it makes a lot of sense. T-Mobile has a huge NBA presence and many athletes have proclaimed their love for Sidekicks and the G1 is just a natural extension from there. Obviously, we'll never hear his stance on Open Source OS's but Shaq using a "Google Phone". Instant credibility. Sort of.
If you like your Google Android G1 from T-Mobile but you aren't crazy about the slide-out keyboard, cupcake may soon give you the much-anticipated on-screen keyboard as an option. This video, created by Brian Jepson, is a walkthrough of the on-screen keyboard on a G1 as well as more interesting screen transitions and some Linux shell time.
Although still a little buggy, this demo of cupcake is creating excitement for the good things to come, like better one-handed operation of the G1. Take a look at the video and share your impressions - are you excited for cupcake?
Now that MWC '09 is but a distant memory we thought it'd be a good idea to round up all the Android news stories that Android Central covered in one easy, trackable post! The biggest news on the Android front was quite obviously the HTC Magic. It's sultry form factor, clean lines, and cupcake firmware simply stole the show! But don't think it was the only Android news because after a slow start to the Mobile World Congress, things picked up pretty nicely. So here are the links to all MWC Android news so you can catch-up, fall back in love with magic, and/or just refresh your memory:
Engadget reports that Haier, a company associated with household appliances to us, showed off a few noteworthy devices at MWC. Unfortunately we know next to nothing about these two devices other than the fact that they supposedly run Android. They couldn't even showcase the phone in action because it was "out of batteries". Not to mention that the two phones are called the G1 and G2. Huh!?
The fun doesn't stop there. There's supposed to be a Blackberry Curve 8900 look-a-like device that wasn't shown and ANOTHER device that the PR for Haier wasn't even certain of. So really, in all, Haier didn't show anything other than two supposed Android devices (one strikingly resembles a Blackberry Storm) and two vaporware devices. Yeah..
We hate to focus on negativity here, especially in our country's current economic state, but Sprint just announced their Q4 2008 numbers and it ain't pretty. They lost 1.3 million subscribers and $1.6 billion. Apparently, as big as those numbers are it wasn't as bad as anticipated so their stock actually went up. Go figure.
Anyways, we know that the Palm Pre is going to give Sprint a flagship device but what about Android? Here's an idea: Sprint and Motorola team up to offer an Android device. 2 birds. 1 stone.
BGR is reporting that paid applications have been released in Android Market. We can't seem to find any on our G1, how about you guys? Anyone buy any apps yet? Anyone see any paid apps yet? Let us know in the comments!
Portions of this page are modifications based on work created and shared by the Android Open Source Project
and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution License. AndroidCentral is an independent site
that is not affiliated with or endorsed by Google.