Android 3.0 Honeycomb: Google's big mobile play

Google developers yesterday released Android 3.0, the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system. This release of Android (Honeycomb) could well be one of the most important for Google which is gunning for a share of the tablet PC market in addition to the cellphone market share it has already captured.

Android 3.0 is aimed directly at the tablet PC market and with Apple expected to release its iPad2 in mid-2011, Android Honeycomb’s entrance into the market could have far-reaching effects not only for Android but also for Apple and a number of other hardware makers.

There are many reasons why the release of Android 3.0 is a big thing for the mobile world. Here are the most important of those:

iPad effect

Apple will release its iPad2 around June or July this year. If Android 3.0 is as good in the real world as it looks to be on paper, then the iPad2 is going to have a tough road ahead. On the other hand, if Honeycomb is filled with bugs and missing features, iPad2 will get a lot more attention from users. Either way, Android 3.0 is likely to be available on devices produced by almost all major hardware makers, which will make it a strong contender for consumer attention.

A good impression

Android 3.0 is not just Android 2.x with a handful of tweaks. It is a whole new beast, designed from the ground up for tablet PC use. The interface looks slick and is something unlike what most other mobile makers have released to date. Like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 overhaul, this may be a big gamble for Google, but if it works it could squash most other players in the market.

Hardware makers

Slick interfaces aside, Android’s major appeal for most hardware makers is that it runs on almost all platforms. With every hardware maker, from Acer to Toshiba, desperate to get in on the tablet PC boom, Android is the best bet to date. If Android 3.0 is a flop then everyone that is betting on it will be a lot worse off.

Cloud boom

Internet-based applications are the future. Everyone knows that but none more so than Google, which has been pushing out a growing range of web applications since early 2002. Android 3.0 could have a significant effect on the popularity of Google’s other ventures. With the right interface and user experience, Google’s online applications such as Google Maps, Google Talk and Google eBooks could experience significant growth, generally good news for Google.

Open platforms

For all its popularity, Apple’s iOS and iTunes is a closed and tightly-controlled environment. Android is an open platform which not only allows anyone to publish applications in its app store but actively encourages developers and users to get involved in developing new applications. Retaining this diversity in the market could well be Android’s most significant contribution because it provides an alternative to the tight control Apple exercises over the iPod/iPhone/iPad ecosystem.

Will Android 3.0 bring about a mini-revolution in the tablet PC market? << Share your thoughts on the MyBroadband forum.

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Android 3.0 Honeycomb: Google's big mobile play