I wonder what Google is up to. They’ve announced that Froyo is not designed for tablets, and rumor has it that Honeycomb, the preferred Android tablet flavor (honeycomb a flavor? oh well), won’t ship until some time 2011. Of course there’s the also the possibility of Google Chrome tablets.
The message this sends to hardware vendors, software vendors, and consumers is that Google doesn’t have a coherent plan, and that cannot help anyone but Apple.
The rationale for not running Froyo on tablets is that the existing apps won’t look good. This seems like a weak excuse because surely it’s not so hard to adjust apps for the larger screen: the iPad is a good example of how legacy small-screen apps can co-exist with apps designed specifically for the larger screen. This approach allows consumers to buy the device and grow into the software as it becomes available. It also guarantees hardware sales now, rather than in some uncertain future. Given the reception that the iPad has had, it seems obvious that the demand is there. Why hold out?
It seems to me that a strategy of releasing devices with the existing OS now, and then offering more capable devices with an OS upgrade in 18 to 24 months as the current crop starts aging is better than waiting for the perfect OS while the competition solidifies its hold on the market. In fact, isn’t that what Apple used with the iPhone, releasing a version with some obvious limitations (one camera, no flash, no multi-tasking, etc.), and then launching a more capable, next-generation device?