According to PC World ("Report: HP May Offer Android in Netbooks Over Windows" by Agam Shah, IDG News Service, 31 March 2009), HP may be planning to provide Google's "Android" operating system on netbooks. This is not as radical as it sounds, as Android is just Google's version of Linux. Other versions of Linux are already offered on netbooks and some of these come with Google software and services. However, it is significant in that Google is a well known brand. This would give customers the confidence to buy a computer which does not have Microsoft Windows installed.
In practical terms Android would be most useful for low end netbooks with small screens and desktop Internet appliances designed for casual web browsing. Android was designed for smart phones and so has a simple "big button" interface. The line between smart phones and Internet appliances may well blur in the process. It should be possible to dock the new generation of smart phones and use them with an external screen and keyboard as a desktop computer replacement. Android could also be installed in TV sets to provide casual web browsing at low cost.
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