June 23rd, 2009

Protecting netbooks from the effects of monopolization

So even though Android running on ARM was the darling of the show at Computex it seems the established OEMs like Asus are being leaned on by Microsoft to stop talking about those sorts of things so loudly: 

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20090619161307529

Maybe the marketplace is so distorted that you really can't be just an operating system company and rely on OEM partners in the general computer device space or be just a hardware company and choose to support multiple software vendors.

Maybe the only way to really fight the herding going on in the OEM consortium talked about in the groklaw article is to do what Apple has done..and to control the entire design experience for your devices. Maybe you have to take responsibility for both the hardware and software as parts of overall product design to prevent being strong-armed by your "partners" into making compromises that are not in the best interest of your "customers." 

Is there room on the playing field for a new hardware manufacturer to step up, and making Android or Moblin a defining part of their device design? One that isn't burdened with pre-existing contractual obligations to Microsoft for other products in their line-up?  Or is the barrier to entry in the smartbook/netbook too high even for that approach to work?  Which relatively unknown ARM OEM is going to break out of the trap first?

-jef