IT LOOKS LIKE GOOGLE is doing some work to make its Android operating system work on netbooks.
Matthäus Krzykowski and Daniel Hartmann who run an outfit called Mobile-facts claim that it took them just four hours to compile Android so that it works on a Asus EEEPC 1000H. They have been showing off their half-day's work here.
They reason that if Google, armed with its Chrome browser, went for the netbook market, it could make a fortune and end up fighting Microsoft's shy and retiring Steve Ballmer in his own back yard.
Ballmer has repeatedly dismissed Android as competition to Windows Mobile, but what about damaging it in an area where Microsoft has not got total control yet?
While Windows has appeared on netbooks it has mainly been Windows XP, something that Steve would rather was dead and buried. The only problem is that netbooks don't have the hardware to cope with Vista or what will become Windows 7. This has left the way open for Linux to fill the gap.
However, while Linux is getting more user friendly, it is unable to shake off the 'geek's friend' image that it has. So if Google could shove a shoe between the door with Android it could be set to make huge wodges of cash.
Krzykowski and Hartmann claim Google could get an Android netbook to market in three months, depending on the partners they would have to form alliances with.
They are fairly sure that Intel is one Google partner working on the adoption of Android to a notebookm platform.
Since mass production of the netbooks would be possible between three to nine months, they think that a mass-market netbook will be in the shops late 2009 or 2010.
But what Google has to have to make the cunning plan do-able is having all the software that a notebook user might want ready. The search engine outfit has really left the development of some of the important software to third parties.
For Android to work in netbook land it needs to have a dedicated set of office tools. While Google Docs is a start, it does not work with lots of other software that punters will want. Other things that need to be developed are suitable language options.
But the question is, can Android compete on a better spec when the likes of Windows and Linux are doing quite nicely? Even if Google did come up with a suite of software it would be sold on the same basis as Linux. In other words, it would be free.
But free software is not enough to draw the punters in, otherwise we would all be running Linux. Google has been building up its various support operations as it started rolling out its Google web-based operations to businesses. However, it is still very small and inexperienced in this area, particularly in comparison to Vole.
If Google does pull its finger out there is no doubt it will be a welcome player in the netbook world, but it is likely to face all the problems that both Linux and Microsoft face in that market place. It is therefore unlikely to manage global domination.
Google plans to annex laptop land
By Nick Farrell