Google Android Netbooks - Real Threat or Just Crying Wolf?

Venture Beat has been staying right on this story about the possibility of Google Android-based Netbooks, most recently reporting that Intel is gearing up for Android Netbooks. It certainly seems like a reasonable possibility but given Google's limited success with the G1 T-Mobile phone, it certainly isn't a given Google would be highly successful in the Netbook market. And it's not even clear what kind of chips Intel would even need to be gearing up for to produce Android Netbooks. Android on a chip? Again, unclear.

While the Netbook market is getting a lot of attention thanks in part to the debates about which OS will win out in the Netbook market (Linux, Windows XP or Windows 7), Netbooks are still very much an emerging market. The economic recession could create a target rich environment for Netbooks, or it could create very difficult market conditions for any desktop device, including Netbooks, if no one is buying new computers no matter what the cost. 

I suspect we will see an Android-based Netbook. Google certainly has the resources and it makes a  great deal of sense for Google to go after this emerging market, rather than leaving Microsoft and Linux to battle it out. It's yet another way for Google to try and edge out Microsoft in the market, or at least complicate matters for Microsoft. But the Android G1 SmartPhone hasn't blown away the market as many expected, due in part to very limited availability of G1 SmartPhones. Would Android Netbooks fair any better? I suspect the same would be true for Android Netbooks as has been for G1 Android phones -- some interest but not overwhelming uptake.

Heavy Google gmail and Google app users would find Android Netbooks a compelling platform for Google's online services and software. Windows users would most likely rather have an XP or Windows 7 based Netbook because of their affinity to Windows and ability to integrate with corporate email systems. Google does have one important advantage they can leverage: offering the Android software on Netbooks for little to no cost. Shaving $30 or $40 dollars off a Netbook price to offer free Android software vs. a Windows Netbook license could be a significant advantage over a Windows-based Netbook. But then again Linux has that same advantage.

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