Asus is thinking of installing the Google Android operating system on future netbooks. Android was initially developed for cellphones like the T-Mobile G1. But we’ve already seen that it can be installed on mini-laptops like the Asus Eee PC 701 or Eee PC 1000H with a little elbow grease.

I’ve been a little skeptical that any major computer makers would actually release a netbook running the operating system when full fledged desktop operating systems like Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu Linux run just fine on the mini-laptops. But Bloomberg reports that Asus has assigned some engineers to the task of developing an Android powered netbook.

Android is built for devices with small, low resolution displays like cellphones, which could make the OS easy to use on netbooks which typically have 1024 x 600 pixel or lower resolution screens. But right now, there are far more applications available for a free and open source operating system like Ubuntu than there are for Android, so I can’t see many advantages to running Android. If you don’t think Ubuntu is user-friendly enough, you could always go with a customized Linux distribution like the HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition software or the custom version of Xandros that Asus is currently installing on Linux-based Eee PC models. Those operating systems are still capable of running thousands of open source applications including OpenOffice.org, Pidgin, and GIMP.

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11 replies on “Asus considering Android-based netbooks”

  1. this is for ARM only. otherwise a geek fantasy and no more. i completely agree with your analysis.

    1. Read the article, Genius.

      “But we’ve already seen that it can be installed on mini-laptops like the Asus Eee PC 701 or Eee PC 1000H with a little elbow grease.”

      Neither of those machines is ARM.

      Don’t post stupid crap without at least reading the article to see how wrong you are.

  2. A number of thoughts here.

    Variety is the spice of life, and choice benefits the consumer.

    I’ve never used Android, but I have used an iPod Touch, and I’d love to have that OS on a netbook. Same goes for the Maemo that I used on my Nokia N800. There might not be as many apps for Android as there are for desktop Linux, but the apps that are there are specialized. They are lightweight, both in footprint and CPU/RAM usage. They are designed for simple inputs. They are designed for a mobile device. They have things like location awareness built in. They are designed for smaller screens…

    Small needs, simple interface, fast loading, small screen optimized, mobile minded… The apps are perfect for a by-design mobile device like a netbook.

    Imagine a netbook that comes with 3G, GPS, an accelerometer, and a touchscreen built in, (as well as the standard WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.), running a mobile OS like Android or the iPhone’s OS X, or Maemo. It would be BLAZING FAST on a 1.6Ghz processor with 2GB of RAM. Put that up against a netbook with the same specs running Windows XP with Internet Explorer and MS Office. Sure the XP machine will be able to do some things the Andriod can’t. But it won’t be nearly the same speed, nor will it look as cool.

    Plus, don’t neglect the HUGE marketing impact of being able to say “The OS for this netbook was designed by Google.” The gOS Cloudbooks of old tried to ride that train, and even though it wasn’t true, it got them a lot of press, and I’m sure more than a few of their sales. If Asus came out and could honesty state that they are selling the Google Laptop… That would be a huge marketing win for them. Even if most people still bought the Windows version, just saying they offer the world’s only Google Laptop would do wonders for their image.

    I think they would be morons *NOT* to do it at this point. Besides, what’s another model of the Eee PC among friends? Just take all the current model numbers and add G to the end of them.

  3. Remember the $200 netbook Asus originally wanted to ship? This is how they’ll do it.
    Cheaper processor. Longer battery life. Truly instant on/off. OS optimized for mobile usage and small screens. A 7 inch 800×480 screen is *huge* for a mobile OS like Android. You can use all the iPhone-optimized (e.g. Webkit-optimized) web sites.

    Meanwhile, they’ll still have the $400 Intel-based netbooks with the standard Windows/Linux OS.

  4. I think that Android would be useful for ARM netbooks or models with sluggish processors like C7s or thos 900mhz Celerons. For other types of devices use a full OS.

  5. Android on netbooks is a *great* idea.

    > when full fledged desktop operating systems like Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu Linux run just fine on the mini-laptops.

    Phooey Brad!

    – Windows: Don’t get me started. I didn’t buy a netbook so I could bloat it with antimalware spyware virus blah blah on its small SSD. (It’s taking two techs hours to get rid of a virus on a Windows box here today. Need I mention that it’s up to date with all virus defs?)

    – OS X: Neither legal nor easy on non-Apple gear.

    – Ubuntu: If it “runs just fine”, why does it need the Array kernel, which is a great project but is up against hardware issues on the Eee? With or without Array, no Debian-based distro has full hardware compatibility with the Eee yet.

    > or the custom version of Xandros that Asus is currently installing on Linux-based Eee PC models.

    The custom Xandros that ships is poorly supported by Asus and Xandros; the updating system breaks existing apps and the silly Asus support websites are usability nightmares. If the Xandros was so swell there wouldn’t be such a push to alternatives like Easy Peasy, EEEbuntu, Jolicloud etc.

    Please give us a well-supported Linux distro for netbooks with full hardware compatibility and not pretend that existing alternatives are all we need. Go Android! Go Jolicloud!

    1. special bonus would be if you could develop for android phones and android os on this laptop!

    2. The Asus Xandros is that way on purpose. Remember that Windows made their little non-aggression pact with Xandros, and could also easily put pressure on Asus. The non-aggression thing is fine when individual users are installing the OS, but once it gets installed and mass marketed, that will never do. Windows makes the command: Break it so people will become frustrated with Xandros and come back to us…or else.

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