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Asustek puts Android netbook on ice for now

By Dan Nystedt and Sumner Lemon
June 2, 2009 09:26 AM ET

IDG News Service - A day after an Asustek Eee PC running Google's Android operating system was shown at Computex Taipei, top executives from the company said the project will be put on the backburner for now.

The Eee PC with Android is not ready yet because the technology is "not mature," said Jonathan Tsang, vice chairman of Asustek, on the sidelines of a press conference at the show Tuesday.

"For the time being this project is not a priority because our engineering resources are limited," he added.

Qualcomm showed an Eee PC running Android on Monday as part of the company's display of new products with its Snapdragon chips inside. The netbook, with a 10-inch display, was thinner and lighter than current Asustek Eee PCs that use Intel Atom microprocessors and run Microsoft Windows XP because the Snapdragon chips require fewer cooling components, such as fans.

It also appeared polished, not at all like an early prototype.

Several companies have shown off netbooks with Android software instead of Windows XP at Computex, including Acer and Elitegroup Computer Systems. Android is a smartphone OS based on Linux that is meant to make communications and Web browsing easy, especially on Google sites such as Gmail and Google Maps. The idea to use Android in netbooks has gained popularity because of these mobility attributes as well as the growing number of companies supporting its development, according to Jim Wong, president of global IT product operations at Acer.

But Asustek shied away from the Android spotlight quickly.

Moments after sharing a news conference stage with Intel executive vice president Sean Maloney and Microsoft corporate vice president, OEM Division, Steven Guggenheimer, the chairman of Asustek, Jonney Shih, demurred when asked about the Android Eee PC.

"Frankly speaking, the first question, I would like to apologize that, if you look at Asus booth we've decided not to display this product," he said. "I think you may have seen the devices on Qualcomm's booth but actually, I think this is a company decision so far we would not like to show this device. That's what I can tell you so far. I would like to apologize for that."

He declined further comment on the subject.

The majority of netbooks today use Intel Atom microprocessors and Microsoft Windows XP.

When asked about rumors that Asustek faced pressure from Microsoft and Intel over the use of Android and Snapdragon in the Eee PC, Tsang said "no, pressure, none."

Intel spokesman Nick Jacobs said, "our customers are always free to make the choices they want," and declined further comment on "rumors and speculation."

A Microsoft representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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