Archive for the ‘ Google ’ Category

Android Beyond Mobile. Way Beyond.

I recently published an article entitled “Android Beyond Mobile” in the venerable RTC Magazine, a war horse technical  publication focused on real-time and embedded computing:

Originally a niche platform for mobile handsets, Android is moving into a host of embedded applications building on Linux, Java and the desires of users to frequently bring new applications into existing embedded devices. [Read More]

In the mobile/wireless development circles I frequent, the piece has been well circulated, but I have to admit that  the concept has quickly gained currency, with or without my advocacy.  For example, at the recent ARM techcon3 developers conference, the Android workshops offered by Mentor Graphics for general embedded development were standing-room-only affairs.  I also just helped MIPS Technologies host their MIPS Linux Summit, where the focus was on Linux but much of of the buzz from IP licensees and developers alike came from Android on MIPS architecture designs in networking and multimedia.

This evening, I came across an article by my friend and colleague, Open IT Strategies blogger and professor at SJSU Joel West.  The article  highlights the next wave of Android disruption with a focus on the emerging eReader market, in particular on the Android-based Nook eBook from Barnes and Noble.

First phones, then netbooks, now eBooks, multimedia players, TVs, set-top boxes, DVRs — even industrial control and medical devices are turning to Android as an enabling platform, replete with applications from the Android Market and a growing ecosystem of developers and commercial players. I am almost ready to lay odds that within two years, Android will find its way into more intelligent devices outside of mobile telephony than it will in just mobile handsets.

Readers – am I crazy?  Please, tell me about your plans to deploy Android beyond mobile and how the Google/OHA platform is changing development and deployment of your intelligent device designs.

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Google Chrome and Android – Why not AndroChrome?

Last week’s buzz over Google’s announcement of its Chrome desktop (and presumably notetop) OS led me and my readers to ask why the Silicon Valley behemoth needs two mobile OSes.  If device OEMs are working to retool, refactor  and deploy Android for netbooks, why can’t Google do the same?

Google’s rationale for launching Chrome as a separate OS from Android centers on differences in visual form factor and connectivity, as aligned with Google’s commercial goals. Google’s building and backing of Android  was motivated by the company’s desire to promulgate its search-and-advertising revenue model to ubiquitous 3G mobile hardware.

While Google could have continued with distribution of  various mobile apps (Maps, etc.) and mobile browser-based search on competing platforms (especially iPhone), the company appears to want to create a more integrated mobile experience and also be able to gather user data uniquely associated with mobile use cases.  Google also needed a mobile OS that had stand-alone, stateful capabilities, given the still-evolving level of connectivity and available bandwidth on 3G networks, especially in North America. Building Android to run Java (Dalvik is J2SE compatible) also gives OEMs deploying the platform the ability to leverage both existing mobile developer expertise (still very Java-centric) as well enterprise and desktop Java-savvy developers.

The desktop, by contrast, already has a working search-and-advertising model at larger visual form factors, but also enjoys high bandwidth connectivity.  For tethered devices with broadband, it makes more sense to build a web-based OS, in this case with the Chrome browser and a stripped down version of Linux.

Google’s choices reflect a dynamic I have documented in some of my recent blog entries, emphasizing that there is a difference in coming “down from notebooks” and “up from handsets”.  As sales of traditional (too soon to say legacy?) desktop PC and fully-loaded notebooks have flattened and perhaps begin to slide, the trend from PC manufacturers has been to cost-down those devices.  A web-based OS for PCs, notebooks and now netbooks supports that trend, requiring less memory, minimal mass storage, and less potent client CPUs (even as multi-core silicon becomes cheaply available).

On the “up from phones” curve, Android supports smarter smartphones, while still being a mobile phone OS (telephony, power management, footprint, LBS, etc.).

I myself do not see a clear point of convergence, just convergent trends.  The key for success for notebooks and netbooks with diminishing provisioning will be Google’s and others’ ability to leverage the cloud. To date, minimalist netbooks, running versions of Linux, have failed to make the jump from local to cloud computing for two reasons:  because PC OEMs and their channels still upsell on specs, leaving space for Microsoft as users opt to extend/mimic the desktop experience with Windows, Office, etc. and more strategically, because the value proposition of the cloud does not yet translate to the average end user.

With all the fuss over Chrome as a gauntlet thrown down to Microsoft, I think these and other basic questions are going unanswered.  I’d be eager to hear your views.

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