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Kindle Fire with its $200 price pushing everybody up, down or out of the Android tablet market

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Suggested preliminary reading: $199 Kindle Fire: Android 2.3 with specific UI layer and cloud services [Sept 29 – Nov 13, 2011]

Update (when neither up or down the market is an option for the company):
Acer Likely to Withdraw From Tablet PC Market [Dec 28, 2011]

Routed by Apple Inc. in the tablet PC competition, the Taiwan-based Acer Inc., one of the world’s top five PC suppliers by market shares, has intended to disband its touch business group in January, 2012, indicating its withdrawal from the competitive landscape to follow the footsteps of HP and Research In Motion.

Headed by Acer’s corporate president Jim Wong, the touch business group was set up in April 2011 to develop and promote tablet PCs and smartphones, regarded as the company’s best promising business unit then.

However, the momentary impression has proven unable to secure the business unit an expected success, as the company, after struggling with the sluggishness of tablet PC sales in the past months, is determined to dissolve the unit starting in January, 2012. Of over 300 workers of the touch business unit, 150, mostly R&D engineers, will be transferred to other business divisions, and only 100 will be retained, with the remainder likely to be laid off, according to industry insiders.

Although the disbandment has yet to be publicized, Acer directors have confirmed that the company has recently merged its Android tablet business, which originally belonged to the touch business group, into its global logistics center management, saying that the once-promising division now exists in name only.

With the touch division to be streamlined, market observers believe that Acer, which just halved its tablet PC sales projection to the range of only 2.5 million to 3 million units from 5 million units optimistically set right after the division was established, is likely to leave the challenging market that has been dominated by Apple with its iPad.

Although global PC makers have eagerly ventured into tablet PC business in the wake of iPad’s success over the past year, many of them, however, have proven unmatchable with Apple in the competition, with HP and RIM already out of the market. Taiwanese contract manufacturers, such as Quanta Computer Inc. and Inventect Corp., have also been jeopardized by customer’s withdrawal from the segment, forced to cut their employees as a result.

The Kindle Fire Is On Fire: Amazon Expected To Ship 3.9 Million This Quarter [Seeking Alpha, Dec 2, 2011]

The Kindle Fire looks like a bona fide hit right out of the gate. New estimates from IHS iSuppli have Amazon.com (AMZN) shipping 3.9 million Kindle Fires this quarter, which would make it the No. 2 tablet after the iPad 2 (with an estimated 18.6 million shipments). The Kindle Fire will become the No. 1 Android tablet by a wide margin (the Samsung (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy Tab is the next biggest, with an estimated 1.4 million shipments).

To put this 3.9 million number in context, just remember that the very first quarter Apple sold the iPad back in the September quarter of 2010, it sold 3.3 million. So the Kindle Fire sold more in its first quarter than the iPad did in its first quarter on the market. Of course, Apple sold 7.3 million iPads the second quarter it was on the market, which was the 2010 holiday quarter.

Quanta shipments of Kindle Fire reach 3-4 million units [Dec 2, 2011]

Shipments of 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet PCs from Quanta Computer to Amazon have reached 3-4 million units, according to industry watchers. However, Quanta declined to comment.

The sources said Amazon has continued to increase its orders for Kindle Fire and aims to see total OEM Kindle Fire shipments reach five million units by the end of December or early January.

Wintek, a major supplier of touch panels for Kindle Fire, has recently raised its internal forecast of shipments to Amazon. Industry sources have estimated that Wintek will ship about 3-3.5 million touch panels for Kindle Fire before January.

However, some makers in the supply chain have built up inventory of needed parts and components steadily, and OEM Quanta has also kept its shipments regular, for the sake of avoiding over stockpiling inventory in case there is a reverse in order visibility, the sources pointed out.

The out-of-the-market case #1: White-box players in China quitting tablet PC market [Dec 8, 2011]

As non-Apple tablet PC players are dropping their tablet PC prices to compete against Kindle Fire, white-box players in China are starting to quit the tablet PC market and can only wait for the rise of the next innovative device to appear in the market.

Since China-based Lenovo is offering its tablet PCs at a price of CNY1,000 (US$158), several large white-box players have quickly dropped their tablet PC prices to help clear their inventory, while several white-box players that offer tablet PCs at below CNY800 are even preparing to sell their devices at cost and then quit the market.

With the launch of Android 4.0 and Nvidia Tegra 3, first-tier brand vendors have been dropping their tablet PC prices to compete for market share, especially Lenovo, which has recently dropped its 7-inch 16GB LaPad A1 from CNY2,500 [$US393] originally to less than CNY1,400 [$US220] and its entry-level 2GB model is offered at CNY1,000 [$US157], cheaper than most of the large white-box players’ models.

Since Lenovo is stronger in the retail channel, while offering warranty and its products have basic quality, these advantages are all piling strong pressure upon white-box players.

Some China-based ODMs pointed out that their orders from white-box players have dropped sharply by about 30-50% with several clients clearing their inventory by dropping prices; however, since they still cannot outmatch first-tier players, some of them have already decided to temporary quit the tablet PC market.

As the situation may become worse, the ODMs expect that more than 70% of the existing white-box players could quit the market by the first quarter of 2012.

Note: White-box is a term often used to describe computer makers who are not the well-known name brands, but rather B- or C-tier players.

The down-the-market case #1: Players drop tablet PC prices to compete against Kindle Fire [Nov 24, 2011]

Several tablet PC players including RIM, High Tech Computer (HTC), Lenovo, and ViewSonic, have dropped their 7-inch tablet PC prices to compete against Amazon’s Kindle Fire, priced at US$199, according to sources from channel retailers.

The sources pointed out that RIM has recently cooperated with Best Buy to offer its 7-inch 16GB PlayBook at a price of US$199, down from US$499 originally. Meanwhile, the price of HTC’s 7-inch Android 2.3-based Flyer tablet PC has dropped to US$299, Lenovo’s 7-inch A1 tablet PC to US$199, and ViewSonic’s 7-inch Viewbook 730 to US$169.

Meanwhile, several China-based white-box players are also offering their 7-inch tablet at prices as low as US$75.

In addition to the 16GB model, RIM also dropped its 32GB model from US$599 to US$299.

Since part of the reason consumers buy Kindle Fire is because of its strong content support, even though other brand vendors are trying to attract consumers by lowering their prices, they may not be able to achieve the same sales results as Amazon.

The sources also revealed that several vendors are already in talking with upstream suppliers hoping to develop a tablet PC that costs less than US$199, but since there is still not yet a suitable solution to accomplish such a goal, most of the brand vendors are halting their 7-inch tablet PC projects.

The out-of-the-market case #2: Dell kills off its last Android tablet in the US [Dec 6, 2011]

Dell has taken its 7-inch Streak Android tablet out of commission, according to its website. While some retail sites still have stock, the company no longer offers the Streak for sale from its own website and will no longer produce it. The Dell Android tablet species is officially extinct in the US.

The fadeout of the 7-inch Streak follows the disappearance of the 5-inch Streak in August, when it failed to corner (read: create) the 5-inch tablet market. The 7-inch Streak went on sale in January and was priced at $200 with a T-Mobile contract, but has failed to generate any significant interest in the last year. The only Dell tablet still in production is the 10-inch Streak, sold in China.

From here, Dell will move on to making Windows 8 tablets when the operating system launches next year. Speaking at the Dell World 2011 conference, Michael Dell, the company’s CEO, said that “the Android market has not developed the expectations [Dell] would have had.”

Lenovo Reaffirms Android Commitment In Wake Of Dell Streak 7 Demise [Dec 7, 2011]

Lenovo is reaffirming its commitment to its Android-based tablets – at least for now – in the wake of the demise of Dell (NSDQ:Dell)’s Streak 7 Android tablet. Dell nixed the 7-inch tablet on Tuesday, posting a note on the Streak 7’s landing page saying that the product, unfortunately, is “no longer available for sale.”

Dell declined to comment on exactly why it discontinued the tablet, which was its last Android-based device on the U.S. market.

Many reports, however, are suggesting that Dell pulled the reins on the Streak 7 to start transitioning from Android-based tablets to Windows 8-based tablets, upon the new OS’ release next year. Dell declined to confirm the move, but other PC makers, such as Lenovo, have expressed their commitment to Google’s OS – even if just for now.

Our tablet strategy today is an Android operating system,” said Chris Frey, vice president of North America Commercial Channels at Lenovo in an interview with CRN. “As operating systems evolve next year and new operating systems become available, we’ll make decisions on the hardware and the operating system that will go on that hardware as we get closer. Right now [Android] is the operating system we have and are driving in the market.”

Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet: An Android Business Slate [Review] [Dec 7, 2011]

Conclusion

Lenovo designed the ThinkPad Tablet with business users in mind. The optional pen accessory and the preloaded software are options business users may appreciate. During our tests, we felt the ThinkPad tablet was great for taking notes, surfing the web, checking email, and many other daily tasks that are typical of a business user.

Battery life with the ThinkPad Tablet is a bit of a mixed bag. Although the tablet is rated at up to five days of use, this longevity is dependent upon the user putting the tablet into suspend mode each time he or she is finished using the tablet. Even then, battery life is sure to vary greatly depending on how much you use the tablet. We would expect that many users may place the tablet on their desk to take a phone call or deal with another interruption and forget to press the power button. In doing so, you’ll suffer a considerable hit in terms of battery life.

In terms of connectivity, the ThinkPad Tablet has a lot going for it. Not only does the ThinkPad Tablet have a full-size USB port, but it also offers a card reader, microUSB port, mini HDMI port, a ThinkPad Tablet dock connector, and headphone jack. Most tablets on the market today offer considerably fewer ports, so this is an area where the ThinkPad Tablet really shines.

IT departments will also appreciate the encryption and remote wipe capabilities of the ThinkPad Tablet. The optional pen accessory is definitely a nice add on that gives the tablet some additional functionality, and we found ourselves using it often during our evaluation process. The biggest drawback to this tablet is its battery managment. Assuming you’re religious about pressing the power button each time you’re finished using the tablet, it won’t be a problem. If you’re like us and tend to forget however, you’ll want to keep a charging cord nearby at all times. Regardless, we feel the ThinkPad Tablet is a great tablet for business users who want some of the added capabilities and software that Lenovo includes.  It’s a full-featured device that offers a tablet experience not found in many others on the market right now.

Hot

  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz ARM SoC w/ NVIDIA graphics
  • 1GB of RAM, 16 – 64GB Storage
  • Lots of ports: mini HDMI, USB 2.0, micro USB, dock connector
  • Full size media card reader

Not

  • Relatively short battery life in idle mode
  • Pen is not included (costs $30)

[Price: 16GB: $499, 32GB: $569, 64GB: $669]

Apple iPad Sales Slowing as Amazon Lights Kindle Fire [Dec 7, 2011]

Since launching in 2010, Apple’s iPad has been the global leader in tablets. But since Amazon’s first table, the all-new low-priced Kindle Fire came out in November Apple’s dominance may be sagging. In a new analyst note, Shaw Wu of the brokerage firm Stern Ageesees iPad sales as a “little light” in the current quarter.

Wu assigns the blame for light iPad sales to stiff competition, namely from Amazon’s Kindle Fire, priced at $199 while the starting price for the Apple iPad is $499. He also notes that some Apple customers are buying the MacBook Air instead of an iPad, but in lowering his estimate for iPad sales in the quarter from to 13.5 million units from 15 million units, it’s clear the Kindle Fire is the leading culprit.

[from: Apple’s iPad sales look light amid Kindle Fire, MacBook Air popularity [Dec 7, 2011]

Wu wrote in a research note:

In the Mac business, we are seeing particular strength in the MacBook Air, arguably the best ultra-mobile PC on the market. Last but not least, iPads appear a little light of expectations due in part to competition from Amazon’s Kindle Fire but also as some users opt for a more full-featured MacBook Air.]

IHS iSuppli estimates Amazon will sell nearly four million Kindle Fire tablets by the end of the year— not bad for a product that didn’t ship until mid-November. Reviewers note that the Kindle Fire isn’t the Apple iPad — it is short on apps and isn’t known for content creation abilities. Yet it seems to serve at a low price what most tablet buyers want — a handy device good for watching videos and Web browsing and content reading on the go.

It’s not like Apple’s iPad dominance is going away, either. If the company sells 13.5 million tablets in the quarter as Wu estimates, the Cupertino, Ca.-based company still has a global leader on its hands. But the Kindle Fire has shown out of the gate that a device can ably compete with the iPad after others like the HP TouchPad and the BlackBerryPlayBook failed.

Wu isn’t the only analyst who thinks the Amazon Kindle Fire is dipping into Apple iPad dominance, either. Another new report from Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuitysees the same trend.

“With our expectations for a new iPad launch during the March quarter leading to potentially lower inventory levels combined with increased competition from the $200 Kindle Fire,” Walkley said in a note, “we have slightly lowered our December quarter iPad estimates from 14M to 13M units.”

But it’s interesting to note that some analysts don’t think Apple is overly concerned with the low-priced Kindle.

“If anything, we believe that Apple is not too concerned about the low-priced entrants,” wrote Mark Moskowitz, an analyst with J.P. Morgan, in a Dec. 2 research note. “Recall, it has been our view that low-priced, reduced feature-set entrants, such as the Kindle Fire, are soap box derby devices stuck between a tablet and an e-reader.”

iPad feeling some heat from Amazon’s Kindle Fire [Dec 1, 2011]

Apple’s iPad seems to have run into the one Android tabletthat could knock it down a peg or two.

After hitting retailers on November 15 at $199, Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet is already outselling the iPad at Best Buy. Sorting tablets by the top sellers at the Best Buy Web Siteshows the Fire in first place followed by the 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 at $499 coming in second. A range of other iPad flavors from different carriers are scattered throughout the top 40 tablets.

Amazon itself shows the Kindle Fire as the top-selling tableton its site, with the 16GB iPad further down the list. But that seems a less accurate gauge of popularity since Fire buyers may be more likely to pick up the tablet directly from Amazon.

Even before the Fire launched a little more than two weeks ago, the tablet was proving to be a big seller, racking up a huge number of preorders. Pegging the Fire as one of the hottest consumer devices among holiday buyers, research firm DisplaySearch recently increased its shipment projectionsfor the current quarter.

DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim now expects Amazon to ship up to 6 million Fire tablets this season, up from 4 million previously.

Another analyst also sees the Fire giving the iPad some competition, but to a lesser degree.

In an investor note out today, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said he’d trimmed his fourth-quarter sales estimates for Apple’s tablet to 13 million from 13.3 million previously. Moskowitz attributed the lower forecast mostly to more limited growth in production but also pointed to the Fire.

“To a lesser extent, the Amazon Kindle Fire’s better-than-expected momentum with more price sensitive consumers is a factor, too,” the analyst wrote.

Of course, Apple is certainly in no danger of losing its current dominance in the tablet market. Moskowitz believes that over time the iPad will actually gain more traction in the business and educational markets. And despite the hot holiday demand for the Fire, the analyst doesn’t see Amazon’s current version of its tablet as a strong enough competitor over the long haul.

“We think that for any vendor to wrestle momentum longer-term from Apple, a fully loaded offering is a must, and here, the current revision of the Kindle Fire falls short,” Moskowitz wrote. “We think that, over time, consumers may come away disappointed with the Kindle Fire’s lack of functionality and smaller screen size. In our view, the Kindle Fire is the current Netbook of the media tablet market. The bigger question is whether the Fire evolves into a bona fide tablet in its next-generation release.”

As a consequence of the above two articles one observer dares to note that:
Not even Apple understands the tablet market [Dec 7, 2011]

Just last quarter, iPhone sales took a big dip. Apple (AAPL) was fine as iPads saved the day. This quarter could turn out to be the complete opposite.

If Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu is right, iPad sales will be lower than expected because of the popularity of both Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire table and Apple’s own MacBook Air, as ZDNet’s Larry Dignon notes. It’s a competition sandwich that underscores how little, still, anyone in the tablet market, including Apple, thoroughly understands the dynamics and what people ultimately want to do with the devices.

Initial trials are over

Not that the iPad — or other tablets — will whimper and crawl to a corner. Far from it. But given what products that Wu thinks are drawing attention, Kindle Fire and MacBook Air, you have to question whether anyone knows, yet, what consumers want from tablets, particularly as we’ve yet to see any solid numbers (and are unlikely to) for Kindle sales.

The presumption is that Kindle Fire snags the price-sensitive and Amazon fans. The MacBook Air switch is by people who need a lot more than what the iPad can deliver. That throws open a lot of assumptions. What percentage of buyers expected a tablet to be a media access device only? How many realized that they needed more than an on-screen keyboard? What price points will maximize sales?

For most of the Android tablet vendors, the answer to “What do consumers want?” has been, “Something other than what you sell.” Maybe Apple has all the answers, but even that seems pretty unlikely. Last quarter, unit sales were up. This month, maybe down. Steve Jobs was certain that a 7-inch tablet couldn’t see any success, but Amazon seems to be disproving that.

It’s time for everyone to take a step back and reconsider the basic questions. Maybe talk to a lot of customers, do some usability studies, and follow individuals around (with their permission) to better understand how they use the devices. Only some determined research is going to get beyond the seat-of-the-pants navigation that the tech industry seems to heartily embrace so often.

Evercore: Amazon will own 50% of Android tablet market in ’12 [Dec 5, 2011]

The Kindle Fire may “vaporize” the market for every for-profit tablet maker except Apple

In a note to clients Monday about Apple (AAPL), Evercore Partners’ Robert Cihra summarizes the impact of Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire on the tablet market in stark terms:

While Amazon’s Kindle Fire has come out of the gates strong, as expected, we see Apple maintaining its competitive lead, if anything accentuated by what now looks like the only tablet to so far mount any credible iPad challenge apparently needing to do so by selling at cost; not to mention Amazon’s success may just vaporize other “for profit” Android tablet OEM roadmaps (e.g., we est Amazon 50% of all Android tablets in CY12). Meanwhile Apple goes on as the only vendor able to cream off the most profitable segment of each market it targets, whether tablet, smartphone or PC. (emphasis ours)

The up-the-market case #1: Asustek sets shipment goal for 2012 [Dec 6]

Asustek Computer, at its global sales meeting on December 5, has set the shipment goals for its four major product lines for 2012 with notebooks and netbooks together to surpass 22 million units and the company internally expecting shipments to reach 23.8 million units, while tablet PCs will reach at least three million units with the company internally expecting the volume to reach six million units, surpassing Samsung Electronics.
image

for tablet PCs, Asustek expects its shipments will reach about 1.8 million units in 2011.

As for the recent report that Asustek was not invited into the Windows on ARM (WOA) development project, Asustek noted that it has the strongest R&D ability among notebook vendors and is the largest client of Nvidia; therefore, the company will continue to have tight partnership with ARM-based processor makers over development of the WOA platform.

See also: NVIDIA Tegra 3 and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime [Nov 10 – Dec 2, 2011]
for all related information + Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime: The Rolls-Royce of Android tablets [Dec 2, 2011] as one of the first reviews

Note: Wistron Enters Asustek’s Tablet PC Supply Chain [Dec 8, 2011]

Aimed at becoming the largest brand for the Android- and Windows8-enabled tablet PCs, Asustek has aimed to challenge a goal of six million tablet PCs in 2012, three times that of this year’s 1.8 million units.

Asustek Unveils Transformer Prime Amid Aggressive Goal for Tablet Market [Dec 5, 2011]

Asustek Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jerry Shen … vowed that his company will become one of the top tablet brands, next only to Apple (iPad) and Amazon (Kindle Fire). His pledge is considered by some industry executives as a challenge against Samsung, which is now the most popular brand name supplier of tablets only trailing Apple and Amazon.

Demo: Ice Cream Sandwich on Asus Transformer Prime [nvidia, Nov 17, 2011]

A quick demo showing Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0 OS) running on an Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

The up-the-market case #2: Acer, Lenovo to launch quad-core tablet PCs [Nov 29, 2011]

Acer and Lenovo are set to launch quad-core tablet PCs featuring Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and Nvidia’s Tegra 3 in the first quarterto compete against Asustek Computer, which has already launched its latest Eee Pad Transformer Prime with Tegra 3 and Samsung Electronics, according to sources from notebook players.

The sources pointed out that the competition over the quad-core tablet PCs will be difficult as these quad-core devices will only see improvements over their performance and design, but will still feature the same concept as their dual-core predecessors.

Therefore, these players may need to battle it out before being able to enter competition against players such as Amazon or Apple, the sources noted.

The sources noted that although these players’ performance in the dual-core tablet PC competition were not as good as expected, they will continue to advance and launch new quad-core devices to defend their brands.

The new quad-core tablet PCs from Acer and Lenovo are expected to be priced between US$459-599.

Since non-Apple players’ machines have no advantage to compete against Amazon or Apple’s tablet PC devices, the sources believe non-Apple players will together account for only 10-15% of the total tablet PC market.

The real up-the-market case: Amazing Screen Technology: Samsung Flexible AMOLED [Dec 4, 2012]

This is CF [Concept Formation?] of Samsung Mobile Display & AMOLED. I’ts amazing and wonderful technology!!!

Some time earlier this year there were concept drawings of a Samsung phone with a flexible OLED display. This was a rather intriguing concept that we didn’t think would be happening anytime soon, but we were then proved wrong as Samsung stepped forward and said that flexible display smartphones were in the works and would be introduced some time in 2012.

Now Samsung’s Mobile Display Division has released a new concept video of what a transparent and flexible tablet of the future could look like and what it could accomplish. We’re guessing that Samsung’s flexible smartphone for 2012 won’t be anything like the concept video, but we definitely like where Samsung’s ideas are headed.

It showcases a tablet that can be shrunk and expanded according to our needs, augmented reality translation, and what appears to be 3D imagery as well that seems to literally leap off your screen.

From: Samsung shows off flexible display concept tablet in video [Dec 5, 2011]

In its quarterly earnings call, Samsung’s vice president of investor relations, Robert Yi, told investors, analysts and press, “The flexible display we are looking to introduce sometime in 2012, hopefully the earlier part. The application probably will start from the handset side.”

After flexible-screen mobile phones roll out, the company plans to introduce the same technology for tabletsand other devices.

In January 2011, Samsung purchased Liquivista, a strategic acquisition that will allow it to produce the kinds of displays that were announced today. Liquivista made electrowetting display technology, which is used to create mobile and other consumer electronic displays that are bright, low-power, flexible and transparent.

Flexible screen technology was also a focus of Samsung’s in March, when Yongsuk Choi, director of Samsung Mobile Display, gave an overview of the company’s future mobile device plans. At that time, Choi said most of the flexible-display technology Samsung was working on was still in very early stages.

From:  Samsung’s new phones will have flexible screens [Oct 28, 2011]

See also on Samsung Mobile Display site:
Future Display Used : Flexible Display – Foldable Display – Dual Display – 3D Display – Paper Thin Display: “Flexible Display: AMOLED products that are still fully functional when they are folded or rolled can be expanded and applied to full-color and mobile market as digital signage and e-book markets and technologies are developed.” …
SMD History: … “Nov 2010: Developed WVGA [Wide VGA 800×480 resolution] Flexible AMOLED for the first time in the world” … “May 2009: Developed the world’s biggest 6.5” of Flexible AMOLED” …

HP, Dell, Acer to expand R&D investments [Nov 24, 2011]

Seeing that the PC industry is going through a slowdown, PC players Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell and Acer have all expanded their investments in R&D and as the PC industry will enter an atmosphere that is filled with multiple platformsin 2012, each vendor’s R&D, branding and marketing abilities will become important drivers to increase their competitiveness in the future, according to sources from PC players.

HP is set to increase its investment in R&D and to strengthen the related resources. The company also changed its policy to have senior vice president of research, and director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee directly report to company CEO Meg Whitman.

Meanwhile, Dell is set to expand its R&D funding to US$1 billion each year, up 51.28% from US$661 million, that was reported a year ago. Dell also noted that the company will continue to acquire companies in the future and will need more funding to integrate the acquired firms.

Furthermore, Acer’s first R&D center is also expected to increase its total engineers from 600 in the middle of the year to 1,000 by year-end with executives of brand vendors and ODMs all major targets for headhunting.

An Acer executive also pointed out that the PC industry is experiencing a significant change, transitioning from Wintel system dominated to competition between several different platforms. Therefore, to the ability to develop devices based on Google’s Android system or ARM will become important.

AMD helping Android fans port to x86 [Dec 6, 2011]

A team of developers working privately to port the next version of Android to the x86 platform has been receiving a lot of support from AMD, but less from other key players.

The project is seeking to port the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) android-4.0.1_r1 release build to the x86 platform, and Chih-Wei Huang, one of the enthusiasts involved, told The Register that AMD had not only donated two tablets to the cause, but also has a couple of engineers helping out. As a result, the porting to AMD’s Brazos platform is now largely complete and the source code has been made available.

The first porting of Android to the x86 platform was actually done by Google engineers, but he explained that the Google team had not been continuing with the project since Android version 1.5, aka Cupcake. While the developers submit patches to Google, they seldom hear back, although some Google engineers are helping out privately with the project. Intel, too, hasn’t been keen.

“Generally speaking, Google didn’t care for the x86, at least before ICS,” he told The Registerin an email conversation. “Intel doesn’t care, either. They don’t want to help us. I’ve tried to contact Intel in different ways, but the replies were negative.”

Intel’s position has caused the team considerable problems, not least in getting Android to work with the video chipsets, and particularly the hardware acceleration added to Chipzilla’s kit. Work is still continuing, but since this is a voluntary project by people who have day jobs, then Android users might have a while before they can plaster an Intel Inside sticker on their systems.

Chih-Wei Huang, an open source advocate based in Taiwan, started the project with a former colleague in June 2009, and it has morphed to the point where the scheme has 2,600 subscribers to the project forum. He said that while he tried to keep the porting process up to date, it was a lot of work and some people weren’t sharing data.

“Now ICS is more mature for x86 tablet or netbook, so there are more practical reasons to do that,” he said. “Actually, I know some vendors like Bluestack, Viewsonic, and Insyde have already shipped Android-x86.org based products. However, they never contribute back. That usually makes us feel bad and angry.”

Supplementary information: Android: A visual history [Dec 7, 2011]


3 Comments

  1. […] Kindle Fire with its $200 price pushing everybody up, down or out of the Android tablet market […]

  2. […] Pingback: Kindle Fire with its $200 price pushing everybody up, down or out of the Android tablet market | Exp… […]

  3. […] Android-based TV effort via Marvell SoC and reference design[Experiencing the Cloud, Jan 5, 2012] – Kindle Fire with its $200 price pushing everybody up, down or out of the Android tablet market [Experiencing the Cloud, Dec 8, 2011] – The future of TV via a new Metro-styled Xbox 360 dashboard […]

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