There are two significant pieces of Android news this week: The introduction of the operating system version customized for tablets-Honeycomb-and its passage of Symbian to become the leading mobile operating system.
Each piece of news shows the progress being made by Android. Taken together, they are extremely compelling evidence of the strength of the OS which, after all, is just a toddler at five years old.
The New York Times is one of many sites reporting on the shipment estimates, which were made by Canalys. The company said that in the fourth quarter of 2010 manufacturers shipped 33.3 million Android-based phones. That edged out its year-ago quarter, when 4.7 million were shipped. Symbian shipped 31 million. Though it was edged out by Android, Symbian enjoyed a 31 percent increase.
The other piece of good news for Android is Honeycomb. Ars Technica has a nice rundown, with some good photos. The story says that Honeycomboffers a "holographic' user interface shell," more extensive application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers and improved graphic performance. Lifehacker compares Honeycomb to the iPad, starting with five areas where the new operating system wins.
The question to follow deals with the fate of a technology introduced for consumers in the enterprise. SlashGear has a piece covering Box.net CEO Aaron Levie's handicapping the enterprise iPad battle between Android and those using the proprietary OSes. He picks the open platform because of its ability to stimulate developers.
The point seems at once well-taken and simplistic. Clearly, developers will flock to Android. By the same token, they won't abandon the iPad in any number. At the end of the day, the two operating systems-as well as Cius from Cisco, PlayBook from Research In Motion and others-will share the enterprise. Frameworks, such as Rhmobile's, will enable developers to write once for multiple platforms. The concept of winners and losers will fade.