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February 21, 2012

Jelly Bean to launch in Q2, Google targeting Windows 8 tablets

A Taiwanese news publication, DigiTimes, has claimed that Google will launch the next version of Android, code named Jelly Bean, in Q2 2012. According to the news report, Chrome is going to be integrated with Android. (It is to be noted that Google had recently released a version of Chrome capable of running on Android.)
DigiTimes further states that Google will oush vendors to adopt a dual-boot system design capable of running Android and Windows.
DigiTimes further claims that "However, since Android 4.0 did not perform as well as expected, several of Google's downstream partners are turning conservative about Android 5.0."
I think the claims of Q2 launch are very aggressive. Fragmentation is very high in Android, and as per Google only 1.0% of devices so far have ICS.

Many device manufacturers like Motorola (soon to be acquired by Google) will start releasing ICS on their devices from Q2 onwards, and It would be bad marketing to tell the users that ICS is obsolete before they have even upgraded!
Also releasing a new version in Q2 will further increase fragmentation, a major complaint against Android, unless Google wants majority to skip ICS and move to Jelly Bean, which is not practically possible. Fragmentation will negatively impact all interested parties users, developers and handset makers – and ultimately Google.
And it is difficult to believe that the handset makers already feel that ICS is a failure, without even upgrading their users.
As ArsTechnica says "DigiTimes has a mixed track record on rumors, so its claims regarding Android 5 should be taken with a grain of salt."

Android Version Timeline by FAQoid

Google, Apple Microsoft - Who will win the mobile wars?
But that is not the most interesting part of the news; it is dual boot – which gives us an insight into Google’s strategy. Google has been working with various companies like Intel, Samsung and Viewsonic to release devices with Android/Chrome with or without dual boots. Viewsonic, for example, released ViewPad 10Pro in August 2011 capable of dual booting Windows 7 and Android.
Google and Intel (Gootel?) have been pushing development of Android on Atom processors which could be used on smaller form-factor devices with touch support.

Strategically it makes a lot of sense for Google to push for Android usage in x86 platforms, as they are still the largest chunk and Windows is still the most widely used OS.
It also makes the Android platform far more lucrative to developers, since the potential market increases many fold, which in turn will lead to more developers considering Android for development. This will result in a richer ecosystem.
Also Windows 8 could well turn out to be a massive launch. Microsoft has one of the most desirable app, Microsoft Office, which will only be available on Windows; combined that with security and flexibility for enterprise, it could be quickly adopted for enterprise mobility uses. And if Microsoft get the touch interface (which I believe they will), patching system and the price point right, they could have a winner on their hands. This could be very negative for Android devices and Google. By making Android compatible with Windows based system, Google is not only hedging but also targeting a certain section of Windows users who will want to run Android apps.
If it works out, then Google will be able to attack its two formidable competitors, Microsoft and Apple in one stroke, extending Android’s reach while containing Microsoft.
Intel will also hope that this strategy succeeds as increasing demand for x86 devices could potentially offset the demand loss due to porting of Windows to ARM devices.
In this sense, Windows 8 launch could well end up becoming one of the most important OS launch in a long time, one which could define the new computing era. If Microsoft's strategy pays off, we will likely be having another decade or two Microsoft's dominance and while Apple and Google will remain relevant, they will not be able to take down the Microsoft behemoth.
Will Windows 8 become as important as Windows 95 or will it become another Windows ME? Please share your views.

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