April 8, 2009
Acer said it would use the Google-backed Android operating system for smartphones, but the OS isn't quite ready to be used on netbooks.
The computer maker recently jumped into the smartphone game with a line of Windows Mobile handsets. The company is aiming for 15% year-over-year growth over the next few years, and it may aggressively price its smartphones to gain market share. Acer did not give details on its Android handset, but rumors suggest the device will sport a full touch screen and may hit in September. The move shows Android is picking up steam, as Acer will join the likes of Motorola, HTC, and Samsung as manufacturers who have committed to releasing smartphones this year with the Linux-based OS. Other computer makers like Asus and Hewlett-Packard are considering using Android for the red-hot netbook market, but Acer said the OS is not quite good enough for those types of devices. "For a netbook, you really need to be able to view a full Web for the total Internet experience, and Android is not that yet," Jim Wong, head of Acer's IT products, said Tuesday while introducing a new line of computers. Acer said it has prototype Android netbooks that eventually could make their way into the hands of consumers. Because Android is an open source platform, Acer could potentially improve the WebKit-based browser before it hits netbooks. The netbook market has exploded over the last two years, and Gartner expects global sales will grow nearly 80% this year to capture 8% of the total PC market. Some industry watchers thought this market would be a strong way for Linux-based operating systems like Android and Ubuntu to grab a larger audience, but Microsoft said Windows has captured 96% of the netbook market.
Pressure from open source competitors like Android means Windows may have to open up its operating system to drive down costs and maintain its developer ecosystem. InformationWeek published an in-depth report on overhauling Microsoft, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).
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