PC maker unveils Android laptop

Opening another front in the faceoff between two of technology's most prominent companies, a PC maker said Tuesday it would release a low-cost laptop running Google's Android operating system instead of Microsoft's Windows.
Several other computer makers are also developing models that will run Google's software.

The arrival of new Google-powered netbooks, as the smaller, cheaper computers are known, would open a new front in the battle between the two technology giants, which already compete fiercely against each other in a growing number of areas: search technology, Internet advertising technology, office productivity software, maps, e-mail, chat and Web browsers.

But Tuesday, Google downplayed its role in the announcement by Acer, the world's third-largest manufacturer of personal computers, issuing a statement that emphasized "anyone can take the Android platform and add code or download it to create a mobile device without restrictions."

The post linked to an announcement by a chain of British computer superstores that it would no longer offer netbooks running Linux, an open-source operating system that shares code with Android.

"Despite initial hype that netbooks would move more users onto the Linux platform, Microsoft has emerged as the preferred operating system because Windows makes it easier to share content, and provides customers with a simpler, more familiar computing experience on the move," a release from the chain said.

First released in 2007, netbooks now make up 20 percent of the notebook PC market, according to DisplaySearch, a unit of technology research provider NPD Group. But the scorching growth is starting to cool. First-quarter netbook sales were down 26 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, while notebook computer sales fell only 24 percent.

Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst with Gartner, said, "Windows was actually the winner of the netbook market" and that it is too early to know if Google will be able to make inroads. "Unless there is some really appealing function, I think it will probably be quite challenging," Kitagawa said.

BY Elise Ackerman
Source:Mercury News

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