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Mar 25, 2011

No Honeycomb Source For You! Says Google… [Android]

Honeycomb open source

Just when RIM decides to make a bold move and get closer to Android by expanding PlayBook to support Android apps – we are getting some negative vibes from the open handset alliance…

First let's start with the Motorola Xoom – the first tablet to run Honeycomb. According to ZDNet's Between the lines:

With Apple launching the iPad 2 Friday, Motorola Mobility may be forced to scramble to bolster sales of the Xoom tablet.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek on Friday argued that earnings estimates for Motorola Mobility are too high for the second quarter and 2011 because sales of the Xoom and Atrix haven’t lived up to expectations.

Misek said: "Xoom sales have been underwhelming. While marketing has just started we believe MMI will likely have to cut production if it already has not done so. We believe the device has been a bit buggy and did not meet the magic price point of $500. We believe management knows this and is hurrying development and production of lower cost tablets. Importantly we believe management will likely have to make the painful decision to accept little to no margin initially in order to match iPad 2’s wholesale pricing."

Wow. That doesn't sound good. I want to say "I told you so" but I didn't so I cannot get credit for something I didn't do… but in my mind I think I told you so

If that's not all, AndroidCentral are reporting that Google decided to delay the release of Android 3.0.1 source code due to code issues:

"To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs," says Andy Rubin, vice-president for engineering at Google and head of its Android group. "We didn't want to think about what it would take for the same software to run on phones. It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut."

Rubin says that if Google were to open-source the Honeycomb code now, as it has with other versions of Android at similar periods in their development, it couldn't prevent developers from putting the software on phones "and creating a really bad user experience. We have no idea if it will even work on phones."

Amazing stuff, bad stuff, but I admire Google for taking that move. While most of the Android fans are probably totally mad right now, I actually think Google made a good move!

There were so many tablets running Android even before the announcement of version 3 (over 50! and if you do no believe it – check it out in Wikipedia and other sources) – most of them so bad they could do more damage to the reputation of Android than give value.

You see, Google are competing head to head with Apple, while Apple are doing everything by themselves, resulting in perfect user experience, Google is gaining a lot from their great partners such as HTC, Samsung, Motorola (well… sort of…), but can also be easily harmed by bad partners: there are so many small players out there that are trying to take part of the Android success that can actually cause more damage to Android. When something doesn't work, because some kind of a hardware vendor decided to take an unstable release of Android and tweak it around – the customers will blame Google!

So Google understands that there is only one shot here, and in order to make things right, there are things to fix, even if it will cause delays in production.

Now it's a matter of time: iPad 2 is already out, selling like crazy. PlayBook is about to be released very soon, Xoom is doomed, Samsung's new Galaxy tablets might be OK, but we should soon see a new Android OS (3.1?) not only optimized for tablets but also stable and ready for use.

And I'm asking, what about Microsoft?



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