You may have heard about Dell's plan to develop a pocket-sized web device that would provide Internet connectivity but no cell phone service. Add the two of those statements together, and you get the real news: Google is officially in the wider device OS race.
Some have been speculating even a year before the launch of Android that Google the OS to appear in more places than just a phone:
If the wider-ranging operating system is really what Google is doing with Android, well, the App Engine, Google's web hosting and support service for developers, wouldn't just be about helping web developers, it would provide services for Android developers. And, Google is also constantly improving the artificial intelligence capacity of its search engine, its spam filtering in Gmail, and a range of other services -- Google is creating a supercomputer, driven by artificial intelligence. Through Android, it could let these developers build applications that use its brain.Now add in the real killer for a netbook-type application: Google Apps. Not only does the hardware vendor get a free operating system (which helps as hardware wants to be free), but Android has its software cousin that provides email, a word processor, spreadsheet, and so on. That drops a lot of expense off the books, increasing the ability to sell to a price-conscious consumer.
It's not a slam-dunk. According to one handset developer I spoke with, Android is like Linux and "good for geeks, bad for end users." But if Google could get beyond the beta mentality and get a better UI design -- and it can certainly afford to get the help to improve that aspect -- this would put the company into a head-to-head competition with Microsoft on multiple fronts, with a serious income stream that could underwrite the price of free. And when it comes to operating systems and office productivity applications, Microsoft cannot compete.
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