In an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday, Asustek’s Samson Hu (in charge of the Eee PC line) said that Asustek had assigned engineers within the company to work on an Android-based netbook and that it might be finished by the end of this year. They won’t make a decision on whether to offer it as a product (probably through the Asus Eee PC line).
Google’s Android (Code.Google.com/Android) is free, and has been booted up on some ultraportables. Right now, the majority of the market is running Microsoft Windows XP Home, with various distributions of Linux coming up in second place.
By the time this device would be finished, Windows 7 would probably be widely available as an OEM install on netbooks/ultraportables, however nobody is quite sure how much Microsoft is going to charge per device at this point. Microsoft would have preferred to have retired Windows XP before now, however Windows Vista was not a realistic option for these devices, both because of performance and because of price, and they faced the problem of letting this market be dominated by Linux had XP been discontinued.
Android would certainly not be an issue as far as performance or licensing fees on these devices – the main focus was to originally run on mobile phone handsets. This would be a reverse of Apple’s decision to port and scale OS X down to the iPhone level, since the OS would be scaled up to a laptop level. If anything, performance should be the same or better than Windows on the same device.
Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has been in talks with other companies, including Pegatron Corporation, to come up with a platform for netbooks that would be based on Android.
At this point, from what I’ve seen of Android, it would be able to easily handle most of what people are buying these devices for. It would be interesting, since this is all coming about just as we are not too far away from devices based on the NVIDIA Ion platform.