Android as a Netbook OS

There has been grumbling about the lack of cell phone platforms available for Google’s Android OS. Perhaps it is because the cell phone platform was just a Beta test for Android.

Rumors about Android being targeted for Netbooks have been around for a while.  Well, it’s not a rumor anymore.  Android has been successfully loaded on an Asus Eee PC 1000H Netbook.

A low overhead, open source OS with the backing of the Google brand behind it.   This could be bad news for Micosoft’s sales projections of Windows7 in the Netbook space.  Consumers who are not comfortable with the current alternate of a LINUX based OS would feel more comfortable with a Google branded OS. (Yes, I know Android is LINUX based, but I’m talking marketing here, not the technical aspect.)

The fact that Google has made Android open source, means no OS licencing fee.  The Microsoft licensing fee is a big cut into the profit margin of any netbook sold running XP, Vista or Windows7 in the future.

Add Chrome to the mix, Google’s browser, which many feel was designed more as a platform for cloud based applications than a general purpose browser and you have a platform that fullfills many of the basic functions that users have.   Google has added the “offline” feature” to gmail and their calendar app.  I expect tasks and Google docs to follow soon.

Here is a senario to consider, using your Android cell phone’s G3 connection as the Internet connection for your Android netbook.  The Android to Android connection could be over Bluetooth, WiFi or even a USB cable.

Details on Palm’s new OS

The OS is called WebOS and is LINUX based. Applications will be written in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.  The SDK should be interesting when it comes out.

The new Palm Pre, due out in the first half of this year, has some really nice features.  These include a Replaceable battery, and a MicroUSB connector for charging, with USB 2.0 support. This is on top of the standards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, various sensors, a sharp screen.

The biggest stopping block to the Pre being a game changer is having it locked to the Sprint network.  As soon as it becomes available on other networks, it could be a interesting challenge to the iPhone.

Microsoft rumored to announce their own smartphone

Microsoft has been in the smartphone business for a while, but only as a software vendor with their WinCE OS (ok, so Microsoft calls it “Windows Mobile” now, but the WinCE name is so descriptive).  

There are rumors circulating that Microsoft will be announcing their own smartphone hardware.

Microsoft already produces hardware, the Zune being the closest to what they need for a smartphone platform.  How the current hardware vendors who sell phones with the Microsoft smart phone OS will react to Microsoft starting to compete with them in the hardware arena.

The Palm Pre

Palm has announced their new smartphone, the Pre.   It’s not out yet, but it does look interesting.  Big color screen, a slide out physical keyboard, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, calendar/email synch, accelerometer, 3 Megapixil camera, 8 Gig RAM, USB connector and support for additional add on memory.  

It looks like Palm is stepping up the plate in challenging the iPhone and phones using Google’s Android OS.   It will be interesting to see how the OS holds up under actual use and the application support.  Palm has a very deep application pool to draw from.  How compatible this OS is with the API for the old OS will effect how much of that application pool the Pre can draw from.

The price of texting

I’ve posted before about my opinion of cell phone text messaging the prices the carriers charge for it. Here’s the short form, it’s a major profit center for the carriers.  They are charging a lot for a very low cost feature.

It seems that the Senate antitrust subcommittee has figured this out and is demanding a look underneath the carrier’s collective kimono in order to find out just how much profit they are making over texting.

Palm’s new OS

Palm has been working on a new OS for the past four years, code named Nova.  The rumor is that it will be released at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2009.

A Palm executive makes an interesting observation in BusinessWeek, “The next 10 years is all about the transition from notebooks to mobile computing.”

Palm’s strategy is to not go over the business market (dominated by Blackberry devices) or the high end “strong mobile media experience” (where the iPhone rules), but the “fat middle of the market” of users who want a mobile Internet device/Phone, but don’t need/want to watch movies on a tiny screen.

It sounds like a good plan, except for one fly in the ointment.  That is the same market space Google is going after with their Android OS.

Palm Treo Pro is out.

The Palm Treo Pro has been announced. Currently only with the overly complex WinCE decended Microsoft OS.

A Good etext reader for the iPhone

It’s called Bookshelf, and yes, it costs money. I found it worth the $10

It supports a wide range of formats including ASCII text, HTML, AportisDoc, unencrypted Mobipocket, rft & Word Docs (not docx).

I can access my Baen webscription account from it and download books directly as well as tapping their free etext library.

There is also a Java app that you can load on your computer in order to load books you already have from other sources.

So far, I’m really pleased.  A good move by Baen to support this, since Mobipocket has been very quiet about exactly when they were going to produce an iPhone app.

GSM vs. CDMA

Comment wise, one of the most popular posts here is about Cell Phone technology.  The comments have drifted in to cell phone protocols.

There are two main protocols, CDMA and GSM. CDMA is a legacy protocol only used here in the US. The rest of the world uses GSM.  This is an issue for hardware manufacturers, since the phone has to be built to support one or the other.

At least two of the major US carriers, Sprint and Verizon, still use CDMA.  So there still is a fairly large market for phones designed to use CDMA.

AT&T bit the bullet years back and coverted their network to GSM.  This probably gives them a slight advantage in pricing when buying phone in bulk from manufactures.  It also allows them to compete in the International market, since their phones will operate outside the CONUS.

Another advantage to GSM is the SIM card.  The part of the phone that identifies it to the network is designed to be an enduser replaceable device.  This makes the actual phone independent of the network (something that gives Verizon execs and Steve Jobs nightmares).

My iPhone, and my previous phone are both GSM devices, so I was able to take then SIM from my iPhone (Apple bricked it for about 12 hours) and put in my RAZR phone.  You can’t do that with a CDMA device.

Just from a technical, networking engineer viewpoint, my vote goes for GSM.