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Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 05:50 pm PT (08:50 pm ET)

Google delays netbook plans for Chrome OS to mid 2011


Where's the apps for that?

While Apple launched the iPad as both compatible with existing iPhone apps and capable of running a new class of iOS apps optimized to fill its larger screen, Google has struggled with its own strategy for devices outside of the conventional smartphone form factor.

Hardware partners like Samsung have already shipped tabled devices such as the Galaxy Tab using Android, something Google itself recommended against doing before the release of Android OS 3.0 next year. Google also offers no support for Android Market on tablet systems.

Once Android 3.0 ships, it will compete against Chrome OS for attention among device makers. The two options will also compete for attention among developers, who will have to weigh the installed base of each against the likelihood of users buying apps for each platform. Unlike Apple's iPhone, iPad, and upcoming Mac App Stores, Android and Chrome OS use completely different development models. Apple's iOS and Mac OS X use the same Cocoa development model and their apps are built using the same tools and very similar frameworks.

Also, unlike Apple's iOS App Store, where developers are earning direct revenues from the sales of their software, Android apps are slanted towards advertising-supported models. The most successful iOS game, Angry Birds, launched on Android as an ad-only title, with its developer noting that "was the Google way."

More Android-style fragmentation

Significant fragmentation problems also plague Android, not just in hardware and performance differences but also in the different layers of user experiences created by various Android licensees, hardware makers and mobile service providers, ranging from software "look and feel" skins to seemingly random button placement.

Android Button Comparison


Combined with the conflict between Android and Chrome OS, these fragmentation issues (inherent in any broadly-licensed platform) threaten to prevent Google from ever catching up to Apple in the range and quality of apps that are already available for the iOS. Similar fragmentation problems have plagued Sun's JavaME, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, and the three major versions of Symbian in smartphones, and Microsoft's PlaysForSure program among media players.

In recognition of this, Microsoft has sought to remake Windows Mobile into a form more similar to Apple's iOS, with a curated, paid app store and strict hardware platform guidelines for licensees in its latest Windows Phone 7 program. Microsofts previous Zune HD platform, struggling under a heavy dose of ad-supported software, has been a notable failure over the last year.

On page 3 of 3: Apps before the OS, Google's new version of open