Hardware makers will unite behind Google’s Android as the primary operating system for tablet computers, according to Nvidia’s CEO.
Tablets are shaping up to be one of the highlights of the annual Computex show in Taipei, where hardware makers are showing off their latest products and prototypes. Most manufacturers are expected to show off tablets, with some designed to run Android and others Windows. But Windows isn’t the best choice for a tablet, said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO at Nvidia.
“Windows is too big and it’s too full featured for smartbooks and tablets,” Huang said, speaking with reporters in Taipei on Monday. Smartbook is a term used to describe low-cost laptops containing processors designed by Arm instead of x86 chips from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices.
“The good news is that we finally have an operating system to unite behind. Android is an operating system that has gained a tremendous amount of momentum all over the world,” Huang said.
Android was originally developed with cell phones in mind but computer makers wasted no time putting it to use in other devices. Several hardware makers showed off netbooks running the OS at Computex last year. In addition, Acer shipped a version of its Aspire One netbook that came with Windows XP and Android installed.
The iPad’s success proved there is widespread demand for tablets and set the bar high for rivals. Apple sold 1 million iPads during the first four weeks it was on sale, winning praise from users for its sleek and intuitive user interface, as well as its long battery life. Matching Apple’s success won’t be easy and will require modifications to optimize Android for tablets.
“Andy Rubin and his team [at Google] know exactly where the industry needs to go. Android started out as a phone but it’s not lost on them that the tablet is going to be very important and that the Android operating system has to evolve, and be enhanced in certain capabilities, in order to be a good tablet operating system,” Huang said, citing graphics performance as one area where Android needs to be improved to match the iPad.
Nvidia has a vested interest in seeing the tablet market take off. The company is selling its own Arm-based processor, called Tegra 2, that’s designed for tablets. The chip combines a dual-core Arm processor, a graphics processor, and other components on a single piece of silicon. While tablets based on Tegra 2 have yet to hit the market, they will go on sale before the end of this year.
“I think we’ll have to wait until this fall. The operating systems are coming together, the devices are coming together,” Huang said.