In response to reports that it had delayed its Android netbook, Acer told News.com that it wasn't discussing the timing of a dual-boot netbook. That sounds very different from what the company said last month, when it announced plans to release an Android-based Aspire One this quarter and predicted that "the majority of Acer netbooks will offer Android in the future."
The news site DigiTimes reported that Acer postponed its plans because "further evaluation has found demand for an Android netbook is not strong enough." The story also stated that neither Acer nor Asustek, which sells the Asus Eee PCs, plan to release new netbook models for the remainder of 2009 because Intel has delayed its Atom update, code-named Pine Trail-M, until early 2010. This apparently does not include the upcoming models that Asus has already discussed such as the Eee PC T91, Eee PC T101, and an Android netbook due before the end of October, according to DigiTimes.
Google has done a good job with Android on smartphones, but I've been skeptical of the netbook plans from the start for a variety of reasons (Five big issues with ARM and Android netbooks). The first demonstrations at Computex in early June were weak, and since then things have gotten more muddled. Google announced a separate operating system for netbooks, Chrome OS, which is slated to appear sometime next year. AMD and Intel have shifted the focus to ultra low-voltage chips for thin laptops with 12- or 13-inch displays that start at around $700. And prices on mainstream 15-inch notebooks have started dipping into netbook territory--or even lower.
All of this makes prospects for Android netbooks in 2009 seem pretty dim. I do, however, think that there is a market for a lightweight, instant-booting mobile operating system on netbooks. Whether this is Android, Chrome OS, Microsoft's Gazelle, a version of Mac OS on some new Apple device--or all of the above--remains to be seen.