Android and the Linux Desktop

I’m going to break one of my own rules by making a prediction. The year of the Linux desktop will be in 2014. Now, let’s talk about how I’ve arrived at this conclusion.

Android is picking up steam, and from what I’ve seen, I don’t think there will be anything to stop it. Apple currently owns more market share and the iPad will give Mr. Jobs a momentary boost, but the problem is this; Apple controls the hardware and the software. There is no room for any other company to make money. And companies love money.

In the past, this would have meant that Motorola, Samsung, et al would have gone it alone to attempt to control a piece of the market. But, with android they can join forces to an extent and take advantage of a huge development community. This “friendly” competition will push prices down and keep android more affordable than the iPhone. Also, this results in Apple vs. the world, AND Apple doesn’t have significant vendor lock in. Additional factors are: AT&T’s quality of service, and the Google factor. There should be a strong and steady migration to the android smartphone platform with a strongly superior market share by mid 2011.

The Ipad may revolutionize computing, but my bet is more like a solid selling niche product. However, android is hot on it’s heels in this market as well, with a number of tablets soon to be released at significantly lower price points. Based on early price projections, the rest of the market is aiming to undercut the iPad significantly. At the current estimates, I would expect for android to surpass the iPad’s market share by late 2012.

With one or two important computing platforms invading people lives, it will eventual become necessary to get more serious with some of the data and applications. While touch interfaces are a leap forward in usability in the mobile arena, they aren’t very information dense compared to a keyboard. Imagine writing a book using gestures. Therefore, there will be a natural progression toward systems that allow the user to more fully utilize the android environment.

This may come in the form of an android based netbooks or a full linux distro. I’m expecting android netbooks to hit the market around mid 2012. If the price point stays in line with the currnet android tablet projections, there should be significant market share by early 2014.

Thus, we have the year of the Linux Desktop (er, netbook)

What is the iPad?

I’m watching all the Apple fanboys buzzing over the new iPad. General consensus seems to be that it’s underwhelming, but I think Apple may have found an interesting market niche. It’s not a computer and it not a competitor for the netbook segment. It’s a media/surf terminal. A little toy you piddle with while you’re watching TV to answer questions that pop up like “Who played Lumpy on leave it to beaver?” or “What else was that actor in?”. Or perhaps you look up the playoff scores and read your email. Just Plain Old Surfing. New acronym – JPOS ™- you heard it here first! :)

A lot of people use their laptops for this type of stuff (me included). But if you don’t have a laptop and you find your iPhone or Droid is a little inadequate for regular couch surfing, this would be a better replacement that a $$$ macbook. IMHO, a netbook is a better and more versatile option, but for an Apple person, it isn’t as desireable. As for mass market adoption, you might snag some ebook people and perhaps some that find it a sexier alternative to the eeePC. But I don’t see another iPod craze on the horizon.

My only question is ergonomics. What does it do to your wrists to balance that thing for a couple of hours? You can’t read it if you lay it down. And how do you use the keyboard on your lap? Time will tell.