Every year, those of us who follow open source software are tempted to predict that this year will be the year of Linux on the desktop. Ubuntu, for sure, will finally get out of the server room and onto the desktop. Right? Yeah, whatever.
Guess what, folks? Desktops are so 1993, notebooks so last decade, and the only way that millions of consumers are going to use Linux any time soon is through Android. Android is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and is the number one selling smartphone platform in the United States. It isn't far behind elsewhere. More importantly, Verizon iPhone be damned, Android is dominating news coming out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
New Android phones are on tap, of course, but the "tablet tsunami" that was supposed to happen in 2010 is finally happening here in 2011. Everyone from Walmart TV supplier extraordinaire, Visio, to Toshiba has Android tablets to announce at CES. John Morris gives a great rundown on what we know so far about the Android tablets we should expect at CES. Long story short? Lots of tablets running on everything from Intel Atom processors to Nvidia chips, most of which should at least be demoed with the tablet-optimized version of Android (aka, Honeycomb).
Google TV, also powered by Android, will see some new devices announced at CES (Visio already announced their Blu-ray player and TVs with Google TV installed), although it looks as though software bugs will delay shipping.
There will be plenty of other announcements at CES from vendors galore. It is, after all, CES, in the first year when the recession isn't quite so fresh in everybody's minds. However, when everyone is waiting for the first real iPad competitor to appear, the devices everyone is watching will be running Android. What else would they be running? Windows?
CES just happens to be kicking off 2011. Android's dominance will be slowed by the introduction of a Verizon iPhone and the second generation iPad will invariably be an awesome device. As has happened with the iPhone, Apple has found that, ultimately, countless phones running across all carriers and with an extraordinary number of choices and options available, make for a very worthy competitor. This isn't going to change as Android proliferates across platforms, either.
While fragmentation will remain an issue, CES is very much a harbinger of things to come in the connected device space. Volume, choice, and agressive pricing will take Android adoption to a new level this year, with more people using Linux than ever before. They won't generally know they're using Linux any more than they know that the average website they're visiting is running on a Linux server somewhere. But use it they shall. Linux advocates can take heart - This is the year of consumer Linux. Just don't tell anyone. Call it the year of Android and only the most diehard Mac fans will take issue with you.