This is an interesting one, folks. DigiTimes has scooped up word about a handful of manufacturers – namely ASUS, Samsung, Toshiba and Acer – ordering parts to create ARM-based netbooks. The netbooks would run Android instead of Chrome, though, which would effectively have Google competing with themselves in that space.
Google’s banking on Chrome for the future in mobile computing as they look to stress that everything can be done using nothing but the cloud. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t yet see the need or the use of a browser-based operating system and have elected not to pursue those avenues. The only known players in that space are Acer and Samsung, with both already offering Chromebooks of their own.
With Android, manufacturers get an established operating system that many developers are behind. A robust application market is already in place and enough apps exist for some users to be able to completely replace their traditional computing platforms. NVIDIA’s Tegra line is looking to be a popular choice going forward with these manufacturers as they provide cost-efficient chipsets that provide great performance.
ASUS has already tested the waters in this area, having released the Eee Pad Transformer tablet that can be attached to an optional keyboard dock. Once attached, it can fold shut like a netbook. Sometime this summer, ASUS will also be launching the Eee Pad Slider, a concept similar to the Transformer except the keyboard is permanently attached and can be exposed by sliding the tablet’s display up. DigiTimes says ASUS is already looking to launch a more traditional 13-inch netbook based on Android.
It’s an interesting dynamic in the netbook space where Windows and, in some cases, Ubuntu already dominate. Manufacturers have already tried to compete in this space before using Android, but ultimately failed to gain traction as Android didn’t easily translate to netbooks. With Honeycomb, all of that has completely changed.
As for Google, it will be interesting to see how they play it if Android on netbooks takes off. They’ve poured a ton of resources into Chrome and we don’t expect them to shy away from it too soon, but a surge in Android-based netbook products may affect the future of their desktop computing goals. [DigiTimes]