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Is Dell prepping an Android netbook?

May 6, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Dell appears to be preparing a netbook based on the Android stack, says eWEEK. According to the story, software firm Bsquare issued a press release today stating that it would be porting Adobe Flash Lite 3.17 to a Dell netbook running Android.

The press release in question appears to have been removed from the Bsquare site, although there is a story posted from late March stating that the company plans to port the full Adobe Flash (as opposed to the Lite version) to the Linux/Java-based Android stack. The Dell netbook has been rumored for a while now, says Michelle Maisto in the eWEEK story.

Skytone's Alpha 680
(Click for details)

The first formally announced netbook based on the Google-sponsored, open source Android stack was Skytone's Alpha 680, which is expected to ship in June for $250. Acer, HP, and Asus, meanwhile, have all confirmed rumors that they are evaluating Android for possible use in a netbook, but none have committed to an Android netbook release. In addition, Pegatron has developed a Android-ready netbook reference design for Freescale based on the latter's ARM Cortex-A8-based i.MX515 SoC. The Pegatron design is also said to run the new ARM-supporting Ubuntu 9.04.

Offered with Ubuntu, Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 has also become a popular platform for Apple OS X installations, as shown
(Click to enlarge)

Dell Inspiron
Mini 10

(Click for details)

Dell already sells several Linux netbooks in the form of the Inspiron Mini 9 (above), Mini 10 (right), and Mini 12, all available with Ubuntu. It is unclear if these Intel Atom-based devices will be retrofitted for Android, or if Dell will devise a new Atom-based design for Android, or switch to an ARM Cortex platform such as the Pegatron/Freescale i.MX515 design. A number of analysts have argued that the power-sipping ARM processors are the best fit for a resurgence of Linux-based netbooks, and AT&T has recently let it be known that it would like to subsidize ARM-based netbooks to take advantage of its wireless 3G network.

The eWEEK story also notes that Dell is expected to release an Android-based smartphone in China later this year. In March, however, a Kaufman Brothers analyst released a research note claiming that Dell was putting the rumored smartphone on the backburner, and was “going back to the drawing board to design a more distinctive device.”


The eWEEK story on Dell's Android plans may be found here.

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