What's happened to Honeycomb?

What's happened to Honeycomb?

Summary: The first Android 3.0 tablet, Motorola's Xoom, has been available for more than a month now. Others companies have been talking about their Honeycomb tablets, but none are shipping in the U.S. yet. Meanwhile device makers and developers are grumbling that Android isn't so open anymore, and there are few native apps.

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The first Android 3.0 tablet, the Motorola Xoom, has been available for more than a month now. On February 24, Verizon Wireless began selling a 32GB version for $599.99 with a two-year contract or $799.99 without a contract. The 10.1-inch tablet received generally positive reviews (here is CNET's take). Motorola followed up on March 27 with a WiFi-only version of the Xoom for $599.99 with 32GB of memory, matching the price of the iPad 2 32GB (though Apple also offers a 16GB model for $499).

It is hard to tell just how the Xoom is faring. Early on there were rumors that sales were slow. But the salesperson at my local Verizon Wireless claims there's been a lot of interest in the Xoom and said the store has sold out twice.

Lots of other companies have been talking about their Android 3.0 tablets, but none of these models are shipping in the U.S. yet.

To be more competitive with the iPad 2, Samsung has scrapped its original Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1 in favor of thinner models, which has pushed out its Android 3 tablets. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 with WiFi will ship June 8 starting at $499 with 16GB and $599 with 32GB, matching the Xoom's price. The 8.9-inch version will ship in early summer for $469 with 16GB and $569 with 32GB.

Others are much closer. LG's Optimus Pad, an 8.9-inch tablet with Honeycomb, goes on sale in Japan today. LG has previously said the same tablet would be also available in the U.S. by the end of March through T-Mobile as the G-Slate. It now looks like the G-Slate may not ship until late April. Dell will release a Streak 10, code-named Gallo, with Android 3.0 in April, according to leaked roadmaps. The site NetBook News noticed that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, a 10-inch tablet with Android 3.0, was briefly listed on Best Buy's site as coming soon (via Engadget). The big news here is that it looks like the 16GB version could sell for $399.99 when it ships in early April.

One reason it may be taking longer for other Honeycomb tablets to hit is that Google is reportedly tightening the reins on Android. Device makers are grumbling that Google is taking longer to deliver final code and insists on approving any tweaks in advance. In addition Google apparently has no plans to release the final Android 3.0 code to the public anytime soon. Google says it is simply trying to ensure a consistent, high-quality user experience, and execs note that it has always had these "non-fragmentation clauses." For Apple, this would all be business as usual. But for Google, it is controversial because Android is supposed to be open-source software.

Another big issue is the lack of apps specifically for Android 3.0 tablets. Google released a preview developer's kit in late January and didn't release the full one with final APIs until February 22--two days before the Xoom went on sale--leaving little time for developers to build apps. One developer, Second Gear's Justin Williams, said there are still only 14 true Android 3.0 apps, along with around 50 smartphone apps that have been modified for the tablet's larger display (via Electronista). By comparison, the iPad launched with around 1,000 native apps, and a year later Apple claims there are more than 65,000 apps.

Apple is reaping the benefits of being first with a tablet, but it is still early. The market is still relatively small--around 20 million units last year--but it is growing quickly. Market researcher IDC is forecasting 67 million units this year and 243 million by 2015. Other competitors such as RIM and HP are further behind than Google and its partners. RIM will release the WiFi version of its PlayBook on April 19, but HP's webOS-powered TouchPads won't be available until summer. Once a few more Honeycomb tablets become available, and developers start to catch-up with native apps, it will easier to see if Android can really challenge Apple's iPad.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

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  • The middle path is messy

    People criticise google for the fragmentation of android, and they criticise them equally for any standards they put on their partners - John Gruber said it was bait and switch AND he (alone apparently) always knew it would be this way! Apple's extreme level of control certainly has lots of advantages for users, but Google is finding another level, between zero and total. Its messy, but the proof will be in how successful it is, and it will either be number two or one. No point criticising the theory behind it.
    paulhknight
    • Everyone but Android Fanboys knew.

      @paulhknight

      Only the Android Worshipers were too blinded to see it. ore than once I have been crucified here for saying Google will be "open" with Android only so long as it benefits them.

      Google sold OHA on being an open platform to build added value for handset makers and carriers. Now Google is saying it is a closed platform for building added value for handset makers and carriers.

      Sounds very bait and switch to me. But all the Android Fans will justify it anyway. Personally, this has been needed for some time but Google has never been end user focused but carrier and handset maker focused. Perhaps this is a change to being end user focused.
      Bruizer
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer They didn't say that at all, they said that they're not releasing it yet... Open source does not mean throw caution to the wind, even the kernel is very tightly regulated and it is Open Source.

        You say a lot of junk that isn't accurate about Google, Android and Open Source in General.
        slickjim
      • So which is it? Bad thing, good thing?

        @Bruizer I can't comment, because clearly everything I say is android fan boy spin!
        paulhknight
      • @Peter Perry: Like what?

        @Bruizer

        So have you figured out that all iPads have hardware encryption yet? Pretty everything you mention about the iOS eco-system is outright wrong.

        <b>Google limiting choice to the handset makers?</b>
        If this report is true (that Google is tightening control of Android) then is this true?

        <i>"If you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android."</i>

        To even:

        <i>"If Google didn't act, it faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier were our choice..."</i>

        Is what Google saying is you will still have one man (Rubin) and one company (Google) being the choice? Innovation is allowed to come from one source; Google. Based on two friends that work for Moto, that is becoming more and more true.

        <b>If you use Google services, you are not their customer but their product?</b>
        I mean, you may love being a product of Google and if you use Google Docs, GMail, Maps, Android, Search... <b>You</b> are Google's product. I am not saying these services are not good (because Maps and Search are simply tops), but when you use them, you are a product. Google is selling you.

        <b>That Honeycomb and the Xoom were both released prematurely?</b>

        <i>To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs. We didn't want to think about what it would take for the same software to run on phones. It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut.</i>

        or:

        https://motorola-global-portal.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/62524/~/motorola-xoom---microsd-card-not-working

        https://motorola-global-portal.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/63585/kw/xoom%204g

        <b>That Android has a jumpy interface and is not responsive?</b>

        http://www.satine.org/archives/2011/01/01/the-care-and-feeding-of-the-android-gpu/

        Personally, I detest component based computer systems and will use open source tools if they provide a really good user experience (I run SVN for example). I would much rather work on an integrated system and this is why I have gravitated to systems like the Amiga, SGI, NeXT and now Apple. Even with slightly less flexibility and choice, the overall experience tends to much much better.

        As a programmer, I avoid GPLv2 code like the plague. It's copyright is way too restrictive for the programmer and laugh when FSF calls it "Copyleft".
        Bruizer
      • @Peter Perry (continued)

        Or even when I say things like:

        <b>"Android was always intended to be open for the carriers and handset makers.</b> Do you think that assessment is wrong?

        Lets see:
        <i>"This will be the first fully-integrated software stack, including an operating system and middleware, being made available under the most liberal open-source license ever given to mobile operators and handset makers."</i> -Eric Schmidt.

        Show me where Schmidt says Android was designed to be open for Peter Perry.

        In fact, when questioned about carrier modifications and lock downs:

        <i>"When you free something into the open it is up to the industry to do something with it."</i> Andy Rubin

        And would it be possible to lock down and change a device?

        <b>John Biggs:</b>"So if the industry wanted to create completely locked down devices, that would be possible?"

        Schmidt.: <i>"Yes."</i>

        Yep. Just like school of fish swimming into the net.
        Bruizer
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer go back and read what I wrote to you in that last article you stated I was wrong about iOS...

        iOS does not have full disc encryption and will hand out your files even though you have protection enabled! Notice they call it protection not Encryption...

        If you understood full disc encryption you would know there's no way to encrypt a device that fast simply but turning on a pass code...

        As for the draconian future, you're wrong, the reality is, Honeycomb will be released just has not as of yet.
        slickjim
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        Anybody else feel like these companies like google took advantage of open source for their own profits and benefits?
        I mean, you take a free OS code make it your own and make lot's of money because you paid little for it? Some how I think this hurts private enterprise. I think Open Source is its own Achilles heal.
        jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer

        Honeycomb's source will sooner or later be released - it uses too many GPL components that would have to be replaced (or at least released individually). Other than that, yes, I think I've realized that for a while - note how Google Marketplace (or whatever it's called) is neither free nor open-source (well, it's not free for the handset makers, anyways).

        Besides, Honeycomb at this time is pre-release code. There's no point increasing the amount of fragmentation with beta code floating around....
        spacespeed
      • Google Still Planning to Release Honeycomb Source

        @Bruizer
        Google says that they will still release the source for Honeycomb, but it is not ready yet to be released. So Google at least is still claiming that Honeycomb will be open source. It's a bit premature to gloat. We still have to see what will happen.

        You should also realize that even if Google cops out and never releases Honeycomb as open source software, that doesn't mean the end of the open source Android codebase. If Google takes Android closed source, then someone else will take the open source version and fork it (a real fork this time). There is a decent chance that if Google forces a fork by taking new versions of Android closed source, then Google's Android will end up withering while the fork becomes the primary version. I don't think Google would like to risk this happening. I think they will release the source to Honeycomb to avoid that possible scenario, even if for no other reason.
        CFWhitman
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer
        Where did Google ever state in any form that android is a close platform like apple? They are refining it which can be seen as closing it a bit but it is far from a closed platform and has never been called that by google so please back your statement of it being a closed platform other then by you saying so. Thanks.
        Fletchguy
      • @Peter Perry.

        You said 0% of iPads had encryption. All iOS devices include a feature call "data protection". Go listen to Session 209 last years WWDC.

        You did not write that no iPad had full disc encryption and depending on what apps you have installed, turning it on and off can take some time. Encryption targets only specific user data (like email). There are 10's of thousands of apps that will use the data protection APIs.

        As I said, your statement is 100% wrong. All iPads do in fact have encryption.

        Likewise, I never siad that Google was never going to release Honeycomb just they seem to be enforcing behavior rules if you want access to it early (as in early enough to make a product that will be bought). The concept of: <i>"When you free something into the open it is up to the industry to do something with it."</i> is not there as strong as it was when they had 0% market share.

        But the sheep will all fall into line and say this is great. Personally it is a good thing but that is a different topic.
        Bruizer
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer Sorry home team but fanboys only apply to Apple lovers, the correct word so you'll know is phandroids, get it right fanboy
        Samuel Rodrigues
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer
        Google will open the source eventually. There is no way Google is going to want to own the liability of the numerous patent violations in Android that have already been enforced and collected. Opening the source puts that burden on the handset/tablet manufacturers if they choose to put Android on their device.
        PolymorphicNinja
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer

        Google has never been "carrier and handset maker focused." They are only Google focused. Their only interest is to propagate their apps and services so as to better spy on their users, and thus, better target their advertising.

        Google makes no money from Android, Gmail, Chrome, etc. They make their money from advertising. And they make a lot. All these apps and services are designed to expand their data base on their users and make more money from advertising. The fact that some of their apps and services are very good just makes it more enticing for suckers . . . ahem, users.
        jorjitop
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Bruizer Can you fully Encrypt iOS and all Apps on the iPad? Come on, we both know the answer... Wait for it... NO!!!

        What happens when the "Protection" is implemented and 10 failed attempts are made to access the iPad... It deletes the Key, not all the data... Do you really think it is impossible to retrieve this key?

        Going further, will iOS hand out data to iTunes regardless of Encryption? Yes, it will and unless Apple fixed this recently it was an issue prior to the latest release...

        Now let me ask you, is this what you would call "Protection"?
        slickjim
    • &quot;Apple's extreme level of control has lots of advantages for users...&quot;

      @paulhknight
      Bingo, Paul! Maybe that's why so many Apple users are happy campers. And maybe that's why Apple is highly regarded as a company--not by the open sourcerers, of course, but by those who buy and use their products. Apple's decision to concentrate on satisfying all the average Joe or Jane Users instead of trying to keep a small, vocal minority of "open" zealots happy has served them well.
      Userama
      • I use apple products myself, I know how good they are.

        @Userama Can't an apple user say something good about google these days? Why does everyone have to be in camps here? I'm just saying google aren't 100% evil for wanting a bet both ways, a bit more open than apple, but with a bit of control too, why not? They just want it to be good, like Jobs want his stuff to be good too. Heaven knows he's not above the odd logic backflip on occasion if it gets him though the keynote. Personally, I do think the iPhone is getting a bit boring, but the iPad2 is about the best thing they have ever done, ever.
        paulhknight
      • OK. I'll say something good about Google.

        @paulhknight
        It's good that Google is exerting more control over Android. It will create a better, easier-to-use product for the average user. It will bring some order to the chaotic, fragmented mess that is Android now.
        Open source stuff is fine for techie hobbyists and in enterprise IT, where it is managed by technical pros. But in the consumer world, its warts are becoming more evident as it becomes more widely used. All this "freedom"--let's face it--leads to chaos in the market, and sure doesn't make things easy for the AVERAGE user. A lot of people will get an Android phone or tablet on the advice of a techie friend--once. Then when they discover that it really isn't that user friendly, and requires a lot of diddling with to get to work right, they'll be open to a non-Android product the second time around. Google knows this, and is making an effort to correct the problem. Maybe Andy Rubin learned something at Apple after all.
        Userama
      • RE: What's happened to Honeycomb?

        @Userama
        Your do realise that open source and windows user greatly out number apple users right meaning apple is the minority. the thing with apple is they are over controlling, the products are unrealistically priced for their limited ability and the uncool stigma that comes with using an apple product just make apple for those who only use apple and don't demand high amounts of work or usage out of their device at the best price.
        Fletchguy