Android to be saviour of the Linux netbook

March 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Google’s Android will be the saviour of the Linux netbook, and we’ll start to see small, cheap computers based on the phone-oriented operating system later this year according to Ovum. After a strong start, Linux-based netbooks are now outsold by those with Windows XP. Some estimates suggest that Windows recent dominance gives it a 90-pecent market share. Ovum suggests that netbook buyers seeking a small and/or cheap laptop will generally opt for Windows machines – presumably for the familiarity and software compatibility it brings.

Linux’s opportunity is for the netbook to be seen as an always-on internet device, helped by ARM’s infrastructure. Some of the larger Linux distro’s have not looked to develop a specific Linux version for netbooks. Just today, Novell said that it will not be producing a version of SUSE Linux for ARM-based Netbooks. Ovum suggests that Android, which has a Linux foundation but a more tightly controlled user environment on top, will allow netbook makers to better define them as internet appliances.

Ovum said it expects “back-to-basics” netbooks to appear later this year at the $200 (£142/€154) mark – half the price of the majority of today’s netbooks. They particularly want to increase battery life and deliver fast start-up times, which may also favour ARM/Android designs.


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