Thursday, June 4, 2009

Acer announces Android netbooks

The Android netbooks recently announced by Acer will actually ship as dual-boot systems with both Android and Windows, according Acer chairman JT Wang.

Wang pointed out that the dual-OS strategy is much safer for Acer since consumer acceptance of the Android platform is unclear for the time being.

Acer will cooperate with telecom providers to sell the netbooks and expects shipments to reach an average scale in 2-3 years, Wang noted.

Wang also noted that Acer will not rule out the possibility of launching Android-only models if there is enough demand from telecom providers.

The new details will come as a blow to GNU/Linux enthusiasts who took Acer's announcement earlier in the week as signs of a resurgence in support for open source software in the consumer space. The dual-OS compromise is unlikely to win support from die-hard alternative operating system supporters who will continue to cry foul of what they see as a "Windows tax" on their purchases.

For mainstream consumers, the addition of Android will have a limited effect as it will not translate to cheaper products as some market watchers anticipated. In fact, the second operating system increases the complexity of the netbook and my lead to increased support costs which Acer will need to account for in the purchase price. On the other hand, Acer will be able to promote Android as a value-added feature, similar to Asustek Computer's Express Gate, to account for any price premium.

In other news, Wang has estimated that Acer's notebook shipments in the second half of 2009 will grow 30-40% compared to the first.

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