Android, the smartphone operating system developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, is truly on the rise: T-Mobile's G1 cellphone has sold a million units; Motorola is working on hardware that will run Android; Archos is planning a new device that would combine multimedia capabilities with the Android OS; Sony Ericsson is planning to release a handset that runs Android this summer; and now comes news that both Samsung's i7500 smartphone, and the $250 Alpha 680 netbook will run on Android.
Whereas the original vehicle for Android, the G1, was stylistically years behind the cutting edge, it looks like the Samsung i7500 is a far more up-to-date machine. It's about the same depth as the G1's successor, the HTC Magic, at 12mm. And it's an all-touchscreen affair. It's got a 3.2-inch screen that uses the high-contrast, low-battery drain AMOLED technology, and there's a 5-megapixel autofocus camera aboard alongside 8GB of memory and an SDHC card slot. It's 3G HSDPA compatible at 7.2Mbps and has a 1500mAh battery—25% more than the G1. And it's got Samsung's trademark "clean" styling. It's due in Europe in June, around the same time as the next iPhone is predicted to show up.
Meanwhile, China's Skytone is due to release its Alpha 680 netbook soon. Unlike most other netbooks, it's running an ARM processor inside, at 533 MHz. The screen is a 7-incher, like the original Eee PC from Asus, at 800 x 480 pixels, and it's got 1GB of solid state drive (expandable to 4GB), along with Wi-Fi, ethernet, optional 3G, USB ports and SD card storage expansion. The only limiting factor seems to be its seemingly-slow CPU and the fact it comes with just 128MB of RAM—placing it at the low end of the netbook scene. It's arguably more of a "mobile internet device," similar perhaps to the Crunchpad, with its tablet-like swivel display and low chip-power.
But its strengths lie in its low price—just $250—and the fact it'll be the first portable PC running Android as an OS, giving buyers access to thousands of dedicated apps from the App Marketplace. It's due in the next three months.
Is it time for Microsoft to start worrying? Last week it reported a dip in profits thanks to the netbook revolution, and maybe the Alpha 680 is a taste of future netbooks/MIDs running Android instead of a version of Windows. The might of Samsung behind the i7500 is also likely to propel it to success, which could take more of a bite out of the Windows smartphone market too.
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