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August 11, 2010

Android contemplations

Off the cuff, the way I see it is that Android has a better than even chance of becoming the OS of choice for tablets and other mobile devices. Android is really nothing more than another Linux distribution, but one backed and sort of run by Google. Microsoft, of course, will make the usual argument of leverage and security and integration into other Microsoft products, but the fact is that Linux itself can be at least as secure as anything Microsoft makes. Just look at the Mac OS which is also Unix-based, and Unix is the basis of Linux.

As is, Android is still very much a smartphone-oriented OS. But since it is just a shell on top of Linux (Google might object to that simplification), it can very quickly be adapted to almost any platform. For example, I simply downloaded a stable version of Android, created a bootable version on a USB key, and then booted some of the tablets and netbooks in our lab with it. The hardware never knew the difference and almost everything worked right off the bat, including WiFi. Adapting touch drivers and a few other things would be very simple.

The argument against Android is the same that people use against Linux: it's in the public domain. The program you need most may have been written by some guy from Leipzig or Buenos Aires, and that guy may have decided to ditch the code and move to Nepal. The reason why Microsoft has a stable platform is because they control it all, and the reason why iPhone/iPad apps are so very cool and polished is because you ONLY see what Apple examined and approved.

So Android's (and thus Google's) challenge will be to create the semblance of a strong, unified PRODUCT called Android, something people can rely on, and not something where a poorly written manual tells you that you first need to rebuild the kernel with the -fxuOie switches turned on for the app to run. That will be a challenge.

However, none other than General Dynamics Itronix has just released a handheld running Android. That would indicate that Android may be ready for prime time. And even if it isn't, and many questions remain, there's so much buzz and there's Google behind it. That alone will give anyone who offers Android or talks Android a strategic advantage.

Oh, and manufacturers offering both handhelds and tablets/notebooks would finally have the advantage of running the same OS both on hall their platforms, and not a mobile and a full version of an OS as has been the case with Windows and Windows CE/Mobile.

Posted by conradb212 at August 11, 2010 06:15 PM

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