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Why Google Isn't Pushing Android For Tablets 224

Posted by timothy
from the but-I-want-to-buy-a-nopad dept.
Brad Linder of Liliputing posted an interesting analysis today about Google's reluctance to endorse Android for tablets. Linder argues that while there may be legitimate concern that Android just isn't polished enough for devices without phone access (because some apps need it), it would be smart for Google to segregate the apps themselves, so users can simply know which apps will work on Wi-Fi-only tablets. But from Google's perspective, he observes, "pushing a version of Android that isn't exclusively for phones could be all it takes for Chrome OS to be dead on arrival."
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Why Google Isn't Pushing Android For Tablets

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  • He has something of a point. What is ChromeOS going to do that Android theoretically can't? Maybe having two competing OSs isn't such a great idea anyway.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KiloByte (825081) on Friday September 10, 2010 @07:57PM (#33541040)

      Someone remind me, what is the point of ChromeOS after all? Because I can't see any.

      An actual OS can run a browser, and, in addition, any other program. Having an OS that's an one-trick pony seems to be useless to me here. For flight controllers, that can be good. For non-embedded computers, big or small, not so.

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Funny)

        by larry bagina (561269) on Friday September 10, 2010 @08:00PM (#33541056) Journal
        With Chrome, you can focus all your attention on ads without being distracted with other software.
        • by ignavus (213578)

          With Chrome, you can focus all your attention on ads without being distracted with other software.

          Sort of like television - only more portable.

      • by dlenmn (145080) on Friday September 10, 2010 @08:12PM (#33541148) Homepage

        As TFA explains:

        Google Chrome OS, which is basically an OS built around a web browser. Instead of downloaded apps, it will run web apps, although we expect there to be some offline caching capabilities which should let you do things like read eBooks or watch videos even when an internet connection isn’t handy.

        I agree with the author that this is a bad idea:

        Don’t forget, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, it didn’t have native apps either. He insisted that the development platform for the iPhone was the web, and the phone was designed primarily to run web apps. Today, there are over 250,000 native apps available in the App Store because, let’s face it, web apps just aren’t always going to do the job.

        I don't know how much info is in the wild about Chrome OS, so maybe it'll have some wiz bang features that will rule, but I doubt it. Having two operating systems where one will certainly do just doesn't sound like a good idea -- especially when one is out, the other isn't, and the unreleased one is built around a questionable concept.

        • by Redlazer (786403)
          I'm definitely waiting to see what happens. it sounds very interesting, and that much, I like a whole lot.

          But, it's a pretty wild idea. It will work if there's some serious finessing, and Google is likely capable of that, but....

          It's also possible it will useless. I can't play games on it?

          Interest waning.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by MozzleyOne (1431919)

          web apps just aren’t always going to do the job.

          What's stopping them?

          The only thing I can think of is cross-site scripting restrictions, but there are workarounds for that

        • I really think it'll be a flop over all. Google wants web apps because Google loves the web. So far it is the only area they've really been able to make any money on. Their other apps are kinda neat but they don't seem to have monetized them very effectively. What they make money is mostly ads. Their search engine makes money because their ads are effective. Gmail makes money because of the ads. Google wants everything to be online, or more particularly on google.com, because that's how they know how to mak

      • by ADRA (37398)

        To be fair to Google, I thought WebOS sounded like a retarded idea as well, and they seemed to make it look and work brilliantly (Never used it personally, but tons of people seem to like it). If Palm had a half credible marketing department, they may have had a chance before getting bought out.

        • To be fair to Google, I thought WebOS sounded like a retarded idea as well, and they seemed to make it look and work brilliantly (Never used it personally, but tons of people seem to like it). If Palm had a half credible marketing department, they may have had a chance before getting bought out.

          Yeah, Palm's marketing department seemed to have a lot in common with Commodore, when it was trying to push the Amiga. Never could figure out exactly what it was they were trying to sell.

      • by humphrm (18130)

        The point of ChromeOS was to compete with Microsoft in the AaaS front.

        The point of Android was to compete with Apple on the smartphone front.

        Now, they're fighting a two-front war, and can't decide which general to sacrifice in order to save the other one.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Chrome OS is designed to force people to use Google's web apps. Well, actually, it's to force people to look at Google's ads, but same difference.

        Android has this pesky ability to run native apps. Bad.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Patch86 (1465427)

        Well one of the points is that, by having your computer run only a single programme (with 99% of everything else being a webservice), it should be able to run very smoothly on low-powered devices.

        Not that I really agree with this. The big resource hogs these days are HD video, games and picture editing- none of which are helped much by running over a network.

        Not only that, but it feels like it has missed the boat. Android is already taking care of the pocket-computing (these days- smartphone) niche, and the

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dandart (1274360)
        Of course - you can have a small-footprint OS without the annoyances of other software LOADING. Your OS can start in 5 seconds. You'll rule the world. You can run everything in the cloud nowadays, and on your own personal cloud, too, like Bibud [bibud.com] are trying to do, just more socially. I wouldn't say I needed my audio/video players, my torrent downloaders, my skype, my anything else when that thing is finished. It's just all on a cloud, running wherever you want it to run (not excluding just your own PC). And w
    • by MrDoh! (71235)

      Never understood this myself. Android works, and works well. Sure Chrome will be great, but can't they get the Chrome browser in Android? Then get the best of both worlds. More online apps running in a browser, and Android apps to cover everything else.
      To turn away people wanting to use your products, making them harder to use, seems an odd path to go down.
      I'm still after a decent Android tablet, Samsung Tab looks perfect if it ever gets released, and I'd be happy with just a wifi version if I had to.

      • "I'd be happy with just a wifi version if I had to."

        And this is the problem, and why the Galaxy Tab won't come in a wifi only version, because Google demands that Android devices that want access to the Marketplace must have cell access.

        Supposedly this is gonna be fixed up in Gingerbread -- I hope.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Never understood this myself. Android works, and works well. Sure Chrome will be great, but can't they get the Chrome browser in Android? Then get the best of both worlds. More online apps running in a browser, and Android apps to cover everything else. To turn away people wanting to use your products, making them harder to use, seems an odd path to go down..

        Chrome is targeted at devices with one to two orders of magnitude more RAM, flash storage, and network bandwidth than a typical Android device. Chrome assumes you have a mouse and keyboard, Android does not. Naturally the designs will differ. A few examples:

        * Chrome renders web pages in separate processes, and sandboxes the renderers to make malware harder to write. A desktop PC is fast enough that the slight performance penalty and increase in RAM used is worth the extra security. On a cell phone with

    • What is ChromeOS going to do that Android theoretically can't?

      What Chrome can NOT do that Android can is more important, and that is: everything. So much hype for vaporware that so few people are begging for. Most people are happy with Windows, geeks are content with new linux distros, and nerds and self-declared hipsters would put their lives on the line for OS X; android and iOS both have huge upsides, whether on phones or tablets. I am an admitted Google fan, but come on, who is really holding their b
  • Too early to tell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Superken7 (893292) on Friday September 10, 2010 @07:54PM (#33541014) Journal

    I don't think this is the case considering Motorola is expected to launch a tablet-ready android tablet this year. (And so is Acer too, according to rumors)

    ChromeOS will probably ship on tablets AND on netbooks, while Android will probably only ship on tablets. (at least officially, since there are already some netbooks running android)

    I don't think Google will want to let everyone down releasing non-optimized android versions for tablets, which would only genererate fragmentation (that magical word again) as far as tablet-specific implementation is concerned.

    Also, why wait even more when their competition (Apple) is already singing the infamous "Its printing money!" song?

    I expect them to release a tablet-friendly Android version this year so everyone can start working on top of that new "standard". (i.e. they want to set the standard so Android doesn't end up having 100 tablet implementations)
    Who knows if that will be Gingerbread or Honeycomb...

    • Re:Too early to tell (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alvinrod (889928) on Friday September 10, 2010 @08:34PM (#33541296)
      Actually, Android is already shipping on netbooks. [engadget.com] Granted they're referred to as smartbooks when they run a smartphone OS, but the device is basically a netbook that runs Android.

      I've never been terribly interested in netbooks and have generally viewed them as rubbish, but I'm genuinely interested in the AC100. I'd need to use one before deciding to buy it, but I view it as a better proposition than any netbook I've seen to date. The newest versions of Android have added a lot of polish and can really run well on hardware that's not overly powerful. I can see smartbooks being incredibly popular, especially if they stick with keeping the profile small.

      Android-based solutions are already here. ChromeOS isn't. Google should just axe the project and focus on making Android better for these types of devices rather than trying to have two different operating systems. Any other response just makes it appear as though they're well on the road to becoming more like Microsoft where projects are made in different small fiefdoms within the company and dick-waving contests between the kings result in crap products. Set a company goal and get the whole company behind it.
      • Google TV (Score:5, Informative)

        by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday September 10, 2010 @08:52PM (#33541410)

        not just that, but Google TV is based on... Android. I guess all TVs will have to come with cameras and GPS too :)

        Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] has a article about it, they say that Google gives out varying answers depending who you talk to.

        One one hand, we have a radically new set-top form factor that will supposedly run Android applications, and on the other hand, we have a Google product director saying that Android isn't a good fit for non-smartphone devices and that those devices may pose insurmountable application compatibility challenges in some cases.

        I reckon this will quickly be a non-story in the end. Someone from Google will provide the necessary foot to the bum of the marketing department and all will be well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I notice they are calling the AC100 the "Dynabook"... hope they are going to give credit to Alan Kay and Xerox Parc for that one.
      • by pspahn (1175617)

        Quite possibly the most useless link ever.

        Anyone watch that video? The guy even says, "I have no idea how to use this" and "there's no internet connection"

        Why bother?

      • Re:Too early to tell (Score:5, Interesting)

        by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @01:01AM (#33542504)

        Android-based solutions are already here. ChromeOS isn't. Google should just axe the project and focus on making Android better for these types of devices rather than trying to have two different operating systems.

        No, Android and ChromeOS are both optimized to run on very different hardware platforms. One is designed for low energy usage, passive cooling, no swap memory, and plenty of sensors. And the other is designed for high energy usage, active cooling, and plenty of swap memory space. Fundamentally, those two types of hardware profiles are very different.

        And unless one type of hardware profile completely replaces the other, and it hasn't yet, Google should continue supporting both types. And who cares if Chrome OS is not ready yet, Google is taking the longterm view on this. Take its 'Google Docs' for instance, it's not ready to challenge Microsoft Office head-on yet, and it may never be, but it's slowly improving and it's already miles ahead of any similar online Office features offered by Microsoft -- so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years. The same could be done with Chrome OS. Give it two years. Give it five years, or even ten years. Google can wait. Google can afford to wait. It just needs to keep its eyes on the ball.

      • by ignavus (213578)

        Actually, Android is already shipping on netbooks. [engadget.com] Granted they're referred to as smartbooks when they run a smartphone OS, but the device is basically a netbook that runs Android.

        Like this little thing being sold by an Australian company: http://www.pioneercomputers.com.au/products/configure.asp?c1=3&c2=12&id=3169 [pioneercomputers.com.au]

        You can buy it with "Andriod" or the appropriately named WinCE.

        I have a 7" tablet with the same CPU and version of Android as this device and it is usable - the netbook is tempting in some ways ... a keyboard is useful when doing any input, but an annoyance when (say) reading an eBook.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Samsung is realeasing an android tablet within the next month. and its quite smooth. uses a built in cellular card to cover data and apps that require it.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Samsung is realeasing an android tablet within the next month. and its quite smooth. uses a built in cellular card to cover data and apps that require it.

        But will I be able to buy it in the United States without bundling it with a plan?

  • I mean, why do they really need to have TWO locked down Linux-based operating systems?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well ChromeOS is not really an OS so much as an Idea..

      From Google's perspective, the underlying linux is not really relevant, what they are pushing is the idea that you can live entirely within the walls of Chrome (the browser) and the underlying OS does not matter.. this in contrast to Android which is far more tightly coupled with the underlying Linux based mini-distro (you couldn't just port the user facing front end to say .. windows mobile or iOS or blackberry and call it a day)

      • by DrXym (126579)
        If the OS doesn't matter, why not put chromeOS on top of Android. Combine the two ideas and allow web apps and native apps to live side by side.
      • by tepples (727027)

        From Google's perspective, the underlying linux is not really relevant, what they are pushing is the idea that you can live entirely within the walls of Chrome (the browser) and the underlying OS does not matter

        For that to work, Google would first have to fix the cracking problem with antialiasing in HTML's 2D graphics API (as seen in this demo [tapper-ware.net]).

    • by DrXym (126579)
      Android isn't locked down at all. It's open souce so you can do pretty much anything you please with it. Of course, most vendors probably want to bundle the google apps because they add value, but there is nothing to stop Bing, Yahoo or someone else producing analogous apps.
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Well, it could be argued that android alone isn't very functional. It doesn't even have a package manager or market. Who makes an OS without any kind of software management capability at all these days?

        Those "optional" google apps pretty much are the only reason anybody runs it.

        Don't get me wrong - I love android. However, it has a ways to go before it truly is "open."

  • I think it should be pretty obvious....Android is taking off, but the idea of an app ecosystem based on the browser is clearly the future as well.

    I'd wager anything that google will merge the two....if that wasn't their plan from the beginning, it will come to pass regardless. .

    I don't see this too difficult really.... but it's smart that they didn't attempt it too early though for various reasons.
    • No, I don't think that's the right approach, mostly because ChromeOS has a little bit more to offer as a desktop OS for thin clients or netbooks.

      They need to make ChromeOS run Android apps.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by catbutt (469582)
        I would consider a Chrome OS that runs Android apps to be basically a merger of the two. At least it is a merger from the point of view of being a platform.
    • by ADRA (37398)

      Sounds sensible. I wouldn't be surprised if Google starts supporting web-standards that involve even further web-to-PC bleeding in the near future. I think that at minimum, google wants the equivalent of "Android Market", "Google Desktop", The Google installer, and Google Gadgets to all be integrated into the underlying web platform in a way that most computing needs regarding applications can be fully met through web 'application' running on the host platform / browser. Or maybe more, effectively equating

  • Horseshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Friday September 10, 2010 @07:59PM (#33541052) Homepage Journal

    I use my Android constantly with airplane mode turned on and wifi turned back on since the cdma radio is such a hog. I never run into any app that doesn't work as expected based on this setup.

    • Re:Horseshit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Friday September 10, 2010 @08:21PM (#33541218)

      This. The only apps that don't work with the cellular connection off are those that rely on A-GPS, and they can always use the device's GPS chipset instead.

      • by pspahn (1175617)

        The SprintTV thing won't work over wifi. It pops up a thing that says so. I've never tried using it really, just the once, so I don't even care.

        Maybe this is "reason" stuff won't work over wifi, because they don't want it to. Bah, whatever. Welcome to 2010. Marketing 1 - Engineering 0

  • Jettison ChromeOS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NitroWolf (72977) on Friday September 10, 2010 @08:18PM (#33541200)

    Whether or not ChromeOS is better than Android at this point is largely academic. Android is here, now and (arguably) ready for mass consumption. ChomeOS isn't. It's a shame, and it would suck to jettison all of that work put into ChromeOS, but it's just too late to the party at this point. People are already packing up and heading out to the retail store with Android and diluting the development of Android to push ChromeOS out to market a day late and dollar short does a disservice to both platforms.

    They need to retool their Chrome developers to start making Android more tablet friendly and rolling the most positive features of Chrome into Android.

    The netbook market is largely static and is likely to self implode or at the very least be rolled into the ultralight laptop market. I mean, really the current generation of Netbooks are really just small laptops; calling them netbooks is paying lip service to the netbook form factor only - a 12" screen really isn't a netbook anymore and people have largely figured out that anything smaller really isn't useful for much in laptop form - but it is in tablet form. So the netbook market is all but gone as separate entity. Where does that leave ChromeOS? Pretty much nowhere. It has no real platform and it is too late to the party to do much of anything.

    Meh... I'd really like to see it rolled into Android, that's really the smartest move at this point.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It seems to me that what killed *nix on the netbook was that there was no development work done to make a *nix for the netbook. Someone just said we it would be cheap to mash up and we will sell it until we don't. MS did some work to put windows on a netbook, but since it had to discount product to make MS Windows work in the netbook market, there was no momentum there other than to kill the netbook market.

      I think that chrome was kind of made to work in this space, and I have chrome installed in a virtu

      • by NitroWolf (72977)

        How do you figure Android is for those that want a keyboard? Most Android phones don't have a keyboard, they are entirely touch based. Only a select few have a keyboard and most of those are either old/underpowered or just plain suck.

        With Swype, even the touch keyboard is becoming faster or at worst the same speed as the chiclet sized keyboard on the phones that have them.

        I fail to see how Android is designed for anything but touch. A keyboard is possibly a nice convenience, but is by no means required.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by luther349 (645380)
        don't blame microsoft. netbooks started out as linux power devices being microsoft wanted nothing to do with them when they started selling like crazy with linux microsoft relised they missed the boat. then jumped in. at that point i would have told microsoft to shove it but netbook makers did not.
    • It is marketed as a web OS, as in the only thing the computer will have on it is a media player and web browser. Ok, well putting aside if it is a good idea to make everything web based, that only works for online all the time situations. You know, like not tablet PCs. Seems like what tablets demand are a classical embeded OS. Something that is light weight but can have all the features you need. Sounds just like Android to me.

      I think Google gets a little blinded by their web focus sometimes. They think it

    • by guisar (69737)

      I would assume they will use Android to govern the "application" market for things which the user perceives as private, usable when there's no network at all, or rely on a lot of computer power and little network needs. ChromeOS, the technology if not the brand name, would be used to define a new level of compatibility and seamlessness with the internet. Chrome the name (rather than the OS) could be used to market this technology. Chrome capable devices could be given a physically distinquishing factor so i

  • I will buy a tablet when it can run windows 7, with autodesk inventor, all my typical programs, and browse the web from anywhere.

  • Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Friday September 10, 2010 @10:20PM (#33541798)

    Isn't Chrome OS already dead on arrival?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      That's exactly what I was thinking. Chrome OS is a gigantic waste of time at this point. It would make far more sense to offer an Android subset than to have two separate distributions. The right way to do "Chrome OS" today is to simply hide most of Android from the user until they ask for it.

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @12:10AM (#33542266) Homepage Journal

    Unless your Android app is specific to some telephone thing, like SMS or a dialer, that app is going to be just fine on a tablet without phone features or even service. WiFi will do.

    Really, let's go down the list of apps on my Android phone:

    The Google Stuff: Calendar, Calculator, Amazon MP3, Camera, Contacts, Email, Gmail, Clock, Gallery, Google Search, Maps, Latitude, News & Weather, Navigator, Places, Talk, YouTube. None of these need phone service, they are happy with WiFi or nothing at all.

    Android Market likes to have your SIM I think to validate ya. OK, ONE.
    Messaging, of course, likes SMS. That's TWO.
    Phone, obviously, THREE.
    Oh darn, Mobile Backup. Oh, FOUR.

    Other Apps: AppMonster, Terminal, World, AK Notepad, Astro Player, Barcode Scanner, AndroZip, Barcode Scanner, Bonsai Blast, Browser, Classic Tetris, Craigslist, CraigsNotifier, eBay, Facebook, GPS Status, Music, Pandora, SetCPU, Superuser, Twitter, WiFi Analyzer, World.

    None of these need phone anything. WiFi will do where needed.

    Out of 44 apps on my phone (not counting some very, very obviously non-phone-dependent one I haven't listed), only 4 need or just use phone service.

    Reality check. The many Android apps that want phone permissions just want them to screw with your contacts or to check the phone state. Woop.

    It's not at ALL about Android needing a phone. It's about Android being more suited to small screens and small machines (minimal RAM and lesser CPUS), and Chrome pointed directly at the desktop and netbook/notebook markets. More exactly, pointed directly at Microsoft.

    Fracturing a market with Android and Chrome competing for share doesn't work for Google, so they will try to avoid it. It's just that Chrome is not as ready as Android is, and Android will have to keep itself lean to be workable on smartphones.

    Of course, ARM is working on giving smartphones the power that netbooks have, and Intel is growing the Atom line up and the Duo line down to crush AMD's hopes in emerging markets.

    It's actually not a bad strategy to be competing with yourself. IBM gave that a go in the 80s and 90s.

  • That's what Ray Ozzie said. The future is ubiquitous fast connectivity to any device, and speed is king. You don't want to wake up at night, think "must remember to buy some milk" and have to wait for the current generation of smart phones to boot up before you can tap that into your tablet. If Google do it right, client devices will be another market like pocket calculators in the '70's. The value is in the network, and the client devices will lower in cost relentlessly.
  • Oh well they lost a potential android user here. I've waited for months to have an android tablet but even if you ignore the shoddy hardware sometimes, it is hard to overlook the fact that the App Store is something problematic. Because of the fact that Google don't give access to the app store every frikking manufacture introduces their own. And even in the hypothetical case that Google does let tablet users access the app store here in Belgium it wouldn mean sh*t as for some kind of reason it is impossib
    • by agendi (684385)
      This might be true in Europe, but in Australia it will be priced similarly to the iPad. I have been told by Samsung that all the rumors about pricing out there are basically wrong, pricing hasn't been released. "No pricing has been announced and it’s not yet known if it will be sold outright as opposed to being tied to a telecommunications company like Telstra or Optus on a subsidised plan. McGee said the pricing would be "competitive" to Apple's iPad." http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/tablets/sa [smh.com.au]
    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      I'll agree that Samsung is on crack with the Tab - it's £680! And one of their executives thinks they're going to sell 10m of these things. Maybe it's just me, but I felt unhappy paying just under £200 for a ZT-180 (which tries way too hard to look like an iPad, it's embarrassing). Build quality could be better, it's a resistive screen and the battery life could be better too, but otherwise it seems to do the job fairly well.

      If you're happy to do a little hackwork, there are a number of peopl

  • ChromeOS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MemoryDragon (544441) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @08:01AM (#33544002)

    ChromeOS as far as I can judge from what I have seen on the pictures and the emulation is pointless for tablets the entire ui is centered around a mouse and a smallish screen estate. Trying to push chromeOS on a tablet would be a huge mistake. I personally dont think google is that stupid, and I beliefe their arguments the OS simply needs a tablet refinement to work fine. Heck apple did the same for iOS on the ipad, you need to change the aspects of various distances, better even introduce resolution independence, you have to ajust the layout system of the apps so that they can use the bigger real estate better than just presenting themselves blown up (the classical example is the mail menu system on the iPad)
    and you also have to adjust the market apps decently.
    I would be surprised if google would come up with ChromeOS as solution for Tablets, I rather expect a Gingerbread reference design given first to the Google Employees on christmas with decent Android based tablets following the upcoming months from HTC and co.

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