Alright, so now that the Chrome OS is finally out, we can see how different they are. We also are reading about the many ways it can come together with Android. But while that might happen in the near future, Android is embarking on a journey where most mobile platforms have not gone before.
Android has become the chosen OS for all kinds of small form factor experiments. From touchscreen MIDs to full blown tablets, smartbooks and more. It has essentially replaced Windows CE in many cases. There are a lot of reasons for this but two of them are the most critical – price and ability.
If you are looking for the cost of working with Android, all you have to do is figure out how much your in-house development will be worth. That’s because Google isn’t going to charge you a penny. In fact, if you are a phone company and you use the standard version, they Google will actually pay you! They call it being less than free. As in charging in the negative. Why do it? Because Google earns crazy amounts from the mobile searches, simple!
So manufacturers are getting a fantastic software platform, for free. And this is software that is sophisticated enough to rival and eventually overtake the iPhone. It is something that these small companies could have never developed on their own and it usually would cost a lot to license something this good from another company. It’s not like there aren’t other equally free alternatives. It’s just that they are nowhere nearly as good.
This brings us to the innate advantages that a mobile OS like this has for device makers. The basic premise of any modern mobile platform is that it will take up very little resources and will still provide great performance. Android is really good at this. It is nice and snappy when you need it to be and you can also make it into absolute eye-candy that consume more resource than is required. But it is basically meant to run on the average mobile processor.
So if you make it run on something that is like the Qualcomm Snapdragon, you are looking at something that really puts the ‘Snap’ in Snapdragon. Then comes the user interaction on Android.
A lot of companies have wanted to make tablets but most did not have the software expertise required for it. If you were a small hardware company and had limited capital, there was only enough money to develop the hardware. Software had to be licensed. But even then, it wouldn’t be something made for a new generation tablet. So it would feel clunky and old. The end result would be brilliant hardware gone to waste.
Since Android was built from the ground up to compliment next-generation hardware, it is born-ready for projects like the Vega or the NTT Hikari. Then come the devices that are built for a specific purpose, like the eBook readers. The best example of it right now would be SpringDesign’s Alex because of the way it implements Android. The secondary screen that it has fully utilized Android unlike the Nook from Barnes and Noble.
Then we have ARM chip toting smartbooks and UMPCs that are really overgrown MIDs with foldable screens full QWERTY keyboard. They have been using Windows CE so far but now they too are moving towards Android.
Thus over all, we looking at the beginnings of a revolution. We just have to wait a while longer for it to fully explode.