Some Acer mininotebooks or netbooks will be running Google Android by the third quarter of 2009, according to reports. While Windows-equipped netbooks currently dominate the market, the high growth rate for ultracheap laptops gives Google an opportunity to seize additional market share if enough manufacturers present customers with Android on notebooks as an alternative to Windows.
Acer announced June 1 that it would produce a mininotebook, or netbook, that
runs the Google
Android mobile operating system. The devices will ship in the third quarter of
2009, and seem to herald the long-predicted jump by Android from smartphones to
However, even as it ports Android onto netbooks, Acer will continue to
Windows on its devices.
"Competition in the marketplace is good and people have the right to
choose software that is best for them," Amelia Agrawal, a Singapore-based
Microsoft spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.
"Microsoft remains confident that people will keep buying Windows, as
evidenced by the robust Windows growth on small notebook PCs."
Analyst reports have shown the percentage of Windows-equipped netbooks
jumping from under 10 percent of the market in the first half of 2008 to 96
percent in February 2009. However, with research company IDC
estimating that netbook shipments will grow from 11.4 million in 2008 to 22
million in 2009, there remains a potentially massive growth market for any
operating system competing in the space.
"The vast majority of netbooks on the market today are selling with
Windows XP. A lot of that has to do with peoples' familiarity with the system
and application compatibility," John Spooner, an analyst with Technology
Business Research, said in an interview. "Can Android offer these
capabilities? Yes-you can use Gmail, Google Docs and other applications that
people are familiar with. So the idea of Android on a netbook is
At the same time, porting the open-source Android onto a netbook could
potentially lower the device's already-low price even further by subtracting
the markup that comes with having a Microsoft system preinstalled, making the
operating system additionally tempting to consumers.
"I don't think Android is going to have 50 percent market share next
year, but it could do well for users who are price-sensitive," Spooner
expects Android to gain strength throughout 2009.
In addition to netbooks, Android
has been making gains in the smartphone market, with Andy Rubin, Google's
senior director for mobile platforms, predicting at the Google I/O Developer
Conference in San Francisco on May 28 that about 18 to 20 phones by eight or nine
separate manufacturers would come with Android OS installed on them by the end
Smartphone manufacturers will be able to sign distribution deals with Google
to preinstall phones with Google Apps and other options. Rubin declined to name
which phone makers would be involved in producing Android-equipped phones.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.