February 24, 2009
Will Asus be the first netbook vendor to adopt Google's Android OS? It's a safe bet, according to the head of the company's Eee PC division.In a Bloomberg interview published last Friday, Asus executive Samson Hu stated that the Taipei-based company "has allocated engineers to develop an Android-based netbook as early as the year end." Hu added that Asus has not yet committed to shipping an Android-powered Eee PC, since the project is "still under development."
In fact, Android's ability to run on a PC is no longer seriously in doubt. As I pointed out in a blog post last month, gearheads are having a field day porting Android to all sorts of portable devices, including netbooks and laptop PCs. That includes a pair of VentureBeat journalists who loaded and ran Android on an Asus Eee PC 10000H netbook. That leaves Asus engineers ready to skip the proof-of-concept stuff and get down to brass tacks. At this point, most of the work Asus will have to do is likely to involve fine-tuning drivers and integrating an application stack -- both tasks that are unlikely to spring any show-stopping surprises, even if they turn out to be messier than expected. Asus is a likely candidate to offer an Android-powered netbook for another reason: Its obvious aversion to Ubuntu. While Ubuntu Linux plays a starring role for other top-tier netbook OEMs, including Dell and HP, Asus -- for whatever reason -- doesn't want anything to do with Canonical or Ubuntu. What Google thinks about all of this is anyone's guess. For netbook buyers, however, the prospect of a low-cost, Linux-based netbook OS that is uniquely suited for integrating netbooks with smartphones and other portable devices is extremely enticing.
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