Could Android get a foothold as a laptop operating system? That question comes to mind following word that Lenovo will be releasing an inexpensive, 10.1-inch Android laptop.
The model was revealed when its PDF manuals were made available on Lenovo’s Web site, apparently by mistake, and the publications divulged its Android lineage. The upcoming release has now been confirmed by the company. On Thursday, Lenovo spokesperson Chris Millward said that a formal announcement had been planned but, now that the cat is out of the bag, the company confirmed the model is headed for release.
The IdeaPad A10 features a quad-core Rockchip ARM processor, up to 2GB of memory, up to 32 GB of expandable , a 0.3 megapixel VGA camera on the front, a microSD card slot, a HDMI port and a HD touchscreen that folds back so that the device converts into a tablet. The keyboard has “home screen,” “previous,” and “apps screen” buttons, similar to the ones found on a variety of smartphones and tablets using Android. Reportedly, the model will retail for about $330, and will be available this month or next.
Frustrated PC Makers
While Android is the dominant operating system for smartphones, and it has achieved some modest success in tablets, its presence in laptops or desktops is rare. But computer makers, frustrated over Windows 8’s slow adoption, are looking for alternatives. In June, for instance, Acer and HP showed all-in-one desktops using Android. Asus and Samsung have also shown laptop/tablet convertibles that run Android as well as Windows.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that virtually every major PC maker, except Dell, has also been trying out Google’s Net-based OS, Chrome.
“If you make Windows laptops,” he told NewsFactor, “those are shrinking,” and you want to grab hold of the growing wave of sales in tablets, where Android “has been doing better at the lower end.”
‘What Sticks to the Wall’
That means that computer manufacturers are throwing out new approaches “and seeing what sticks to the wall,” Greengart said. While Android could evolve into a more appropriate OS for laptops or even desktops, he pointed out that it will need to overcome several significant hurdles.
One is that the OS is designed “full-on for touch screen,” he said. Lenovo’s A10 does have a touch screen, as do a number of new laptops and desktops, but many users prefer keyboard and a pointing device, such as a mouse, for getting significant amounts of work done.
Greengart also noted that, equally as important, the apps available for Android are largely designed for smartphones, with some specifically for tablets but virtually none currently for computers. Of course, PC-targeted apps and a version of Android optimized for keyboards and mice could be developed for the platform, but usually those are ready when the hardware starts shipping.