How Important is Google's Honeycomb? by Melissa Cortez

1/28/2011 2:48:53 PM
By PSN Staff

A note to the tablet curious: your options are increasing. Since the launch of the Apple iPad last April, tablets have been the main topic of discussion. Now Google’s first tablet, the Honeycomb version of the Android 3.0 operating system, is public. Making its presence known at the International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, Google’s Honeycomb operating system is the choice for many new tablets (Motorola, LG, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, and Asus). Motorola Mobility's Xoom tablet is powered by Honeycomb software, which took the desirable title of "Best In Show" at CES.

Motorola Xoom allows consumers to experience high-definition content on the device, with 1080p HD video and HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) output to display content on larger HD screens, and plays other rich Web content. Motorola Xoom, unlike the first gen iPad, features a front-facing two-megapixel camera for video chats over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G LTE (long term evolution), as well as a rear-facing five-megapixel camera that captures video in 720p HD.

The new Honeycomb platform offers more features for users and developers. Google claims that Android 3.0 Honeycomb is, “Truly virtual and holographic UI (user interface) design, as well as an elegant, content-focused interaction model.” With an emphasis on multitasking, notifications, customization, and a 3D experience, this new system is sure to hold its own against the iPad. Features include a system bar, action bar, customizable home screens, redesigned keyboard, recent apps, connectivity, and multimedia options (HTTP live streaming, DRM framework, and digital media file transfer).

This new and improved platform will appeal to the current users of Android operating systems. Though in competition with the ever popular iPad that is not their main concern; it seems as though Google is driven to enhance the product for the consumer. According to IDC's numbers, Apple owns 87% of the tablet market selling just over 15 million iPads. All other vendors combined sold roughly 2.2 million tablets in 2010. Nearly half of those just over 1 million were Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which runs Google's Android operating system. This Android 3.0 Honeycomb system poses a bigger threat to Microsoft than Apple.

Google has promised a finished version of the OS and SDK in the "weeks ahead," but the Xoom could ship as soon as February 17. (The release is unofficial.)
After the Motorola Xoom’s release, other tablets will surely follow using the same operating system developed for larger screens; LG and T-Mobile USA will debut the G-Slate. Google could possibly get a head start on sales of this new tablet; with no official release date for the next generation of the iPad.

It will be interesting to see where this new operating system and the tablets powered behind it will stand up against the competition. Whether or not this system will prove to demonstrate what consumers really want and need from a tablet, Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb will be watched by end-users and tech managers who use control and automation apps in their facilities. For more context, read AVT Advisor Steve Vonder Haar's illuminating blog on tablets and digital media.

Melissa Cortez is a graduate student in communications at Marywood University in Pennsylvania, with a specialty in communications research. She is a recipient of an IHM Graduate Scholarship. Reach her at avtinern@nbmedia.com.


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