Could 2009 go down as the year of the Android device invasion? We haven't yet seen the debut of many gadgets based on Android, Google's mobile operating system, but hopes are high.
According to a study by Strategy Analytics, global shipments of Android-based smartphones will grow a stunning 900 percent this year. That's a lot of Androids and raises the question, what can we expect? Some manufacturers say they have more Android-based handsets coming, but others are teasing us with the promise of netbooks, tablets...you name it--all based on the Android OS.
Why should you care? Android is not only a mobile OS, but can support a mobile platform (or ecosystem) on a par with the wildly popular OS that runs Apple's iPhone. (See " What Google's Mobile OS Will Do for Your Next Cell Phone.") The T-Mobile G1 Android-based phone is very similar to the iPhone in features and functions, offering a touchscreen interface, 3G wireless support, and a mobile app store, just as Apple does. Better yet, the Android OS is open-source, meaning developers are free to innovate in ways simply not possible with the iPhone's mobile OS (Apple keeps an iron-clad grip on what you can and cannot do with its iPhone OS).
Lastly, Android was developed in-part with the help of Google. And it never hurts to have the backing of heavy hitters like that.
To get a sense of what an Android takeover might be like, we've put together some Android devices still in prototype form. We aren't claiming that the Android gear we've assembled here is headed for success--or even that all of them will make retail shelves. But the lineup of candidates is interesting. Have a look.