Google + Motorola, Will Webtop OS Pave the Way to an Android-Chromebook Dock?

Google has already stated a number of things about its announced $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, including that Motorola wouldn’t be favored in making future Nexus products as well as other hardware partners in the ecosystem reacting positively to the announcement, but what we haven’t heard is how Motorola will add value to the Android platform moving forward to set Android apart from iOS, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry.

In the past, hardware-makers had to innovate on top of Android, both on the hardware and software side. HTC and others came out with their own user experience layers; in HTC’s case it was called the HTC Sense UI. On the hardware side, we’ve seen tablet-makers like Asus creating laptop docks that effectively changed a tablet into a notebook, as in the case of the popular Eee Pad Transformer. Motorola, which had its own secret sauce, created the Webtop OS, which was loaded alongside on some of the company’s Android handsets, and could be enabled when docked into accessories like the laptop keyboard dock or the home multimedia dock.

As Google is working on Chrome OS on the new Chromebooks, it’s unclear what the future of the Linux-based Webtop OS will be from Motorola’s lineup. Though Webtop on the Motorola Atrix 4G, which itself has a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU, was a clever idea and received a lot of buzz from media and consumers, the experience fell short and was a bit slow, despite AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ network. Given that Webtop didn’t support third-party apps aside from the photo and video viewer that was pre-loaded and a full version of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, perhaps the future of Webtop in its current incarnation may be phased out.

But that doesn’t mean that Motorola wasn’t on to something new, and perhaps something that may be groundbreaking. Carry a light smartphone when you don’t need power, and dock it to the keyboard laptop dock when you do need the extra oomph. That said, Google’s Chrome OS can fill the void with pizzazz as it does support HTML 5 applications and a full Chrome browser with Flash support would give users a bit more power while docked. Also, given that Google’s opening up Chrome to web app development, we can potentially see more app development with a Chrome OS replacing Webtop OS in the future.

Additionally, given that Webtop still relies on the phone’s connection to the Internet–whether if it’s through the internal phone cellular modem or through a WiFi connection–Chrome OS would be a natural fit alongside a smartphone or a docked tablet. If that happens, perhaps the future of Chromebooks will make more sense as it will become a natural evolution and extension of the smartphone ecosystem. As it stands, although the base price of a Chromebook is cheap–and certainly cheaper than Windows-based netbooks–the constant connection and potential need for yet another mobile broadband data plan may be prohibitive for some users to adopt. However, alongside an Android smartphone, it may help hardware-makers push not just phones, but the accompanying laptop dock accessories to make devices like Chromebook a reality. As Chrome OS operates in the cloud, the smartphone may be Chromebook’s best companion.

  

Comments

  1. admin 1 says

    If Motorola is getting into web based operating systems, it will now go for Chrome OS rather than anything else. ARM based Chromebook laptops with a battery life of 3 to 4 working days would be really neat, as would an ARM based Chromebook tablets with a sunlight readable Pixel Qi screen and a one week battery life in reduced screen backlight mode.

    Google could use Motorola to push these new concepts onto the market as they did with the Nexus phones before they are adopted by others.

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  2. corwin1681 says

    Really? Hardware makers have to inovate on android software side? I wish they haven’t, because a lot of people HATE those inovations! (Especially touchWiz and MotoBlur)

    • admin 1 says

      Future Motorola Androids will probably the most vanilla of the lot – the Google Nexus types, but with proper support. I reckon the split will be easy – Google does the software, Motorola does the hardware and the drivers. Motorola will hopefully stick to innovating on the hardware.

  3. James says

    to be honest.. I think chomeos is too bleeding edge. They need to drop it and focus on Android. We are about 8 years out on an idea like chomeos

    • admin 1 says

      They certainly won’t stop focusing on Android – that would be stupid. 

      Chromebooks are for a different market, and they give a better Internet experience than Android but require better connectivity. Android is truly portable personal device, whereas Chromebooks are more shareable luggable desktops for use at home, office, and in WiFi zones where connectivity is good. I think Chromebooks are a Windows competitor not so much an Android one, and they are selling fairly well. I don’t think it is too bleeding edge – most people use the Internet 80%-90% of the time and a lot of people live on the Internet. Chromebooks are perfect and the web browser based interface more familiar to them than Android. Motorola is a potential manufacturer of ARM Chromebooks, and why not if they are selling. 

      Googorola can’t afford to have 3 operating systems in the long run. They need to integrate Android, Webtop OS, and Chrome OS at some point, but Webtop OS can’t have as much resources poured into it as ChromeOS because Google gets a lot more revenue from web advertising than from desktop interfaces – so Chrome OS will win. 

      As far as integration of Android, Webtop OS, and Chrome OS is concerned, I think Webtop OS could become a standard part of Android for transformer type devices. Integrating Android and Chrome OS is more difficult because in fundamental difference in philosophy – Chrome OS is a stateless device – ie. settings, and data are stored on the cloud which makes the device completely independent of the user and therefore eminently shareable, while Android is a stateful device which personalises the device that stores your settings, data, and applications on the device. Merge Chrome OS and Android and you get a mongrel device without the appeal of either. I think the only way to merge Android with Chrome OS is to have a personal device that puts the Chrome browser on Android, and another stateless device which is Chrome OS with your own Android setup running in the cloud. They will both run the same software, but one will be a personalised device which you wouldn’t share with others, and the other will be a shareable stateless device.

      • Daf says

        I think the direction should go for a dual boot device. One for phone and other for Webtop. when you are using the Webtop it should also work as phone.

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  5. Anonymous says

    i was wondering how this would word with an HD dock for the home like the one the photon 4G has. it’d be really good to have all of you’re android information *contact’s,pic’s,recording’s & all* to be in chrome OS when connecting to dock or chromeBook, it’d make a big selling point & add to the android ecosystem. The game’s would be another advantage since let’s say a quad core android is released & you’re traveling & have you’re phone & HD dock you can kick back connect & get on the web,play or whatever. other phone’s companies like HTC,Sony & LG, might take it as google favoring Motorola since they own moto now, but moto’s been experimenting with an additional OS in there mobile’s & are always ahead when it comes to innovating. 

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