Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) released the Gingerbread version of Android only a month ago. And now it's time for another update.
Thanks to the information leaks all over the CES gala in Las Vegas this week, we now know lots and lots about the Honeycomb version. We've heard hardware requirements including tablet-sized screens and dual-core processors, we've seen lots of gadget builders introducing their own Honeycomb-sporting devices, and there's this beautiful video from Big G itself showing what the revamped user interface will look like.
The only thing we don't have is an official launch party. With all of this information already in the public domain, it would be ridiculous of Google not to pop that cork this week -- i.e., today or tomorrow.
This would throw off the promised biannual tick-tock of Android releases a bit, but not as much as you'd think. Gingerbread was delayed by a couple of months, making Honeycomb seem earlier than it really is. Moreover, Google could opt to fork the Android project into two product lines sharing a fundamental code base but displaying very different user experiences based on specific screen sizes. If that happens, cries of "Fragmentation!" will undoubtedly echo across Geekville again, stronger than ever before. Handled smartly, that could still be the wisest and most flexible choice at this point.
This is the week where Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPads officially become obsolete. Honeycomb looks polished enough to take on the famed Apple user experience head-on, even on large screens. Tablet after tablet from Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI ) , Samsung, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , and others will feature details sorely missing from the first iPad, such as front-facing cameras and HDMI ports. The reference design for Honeycomb is built around a dual-core NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) Tegra 2 processor, which makes the Apple A4 look absolutely anemic by comparison.
Steve Jobs is surely not asleep at the wheel. The original iPad was first announced last January, and Apple tends to stick to strictly annual refresh cycles. Rest assured that iPad 2 will correct many of the first tablet's deficiencies and stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the Androids. Jobs will probably have some previously undreamed-of twist up his sleeve, too. That's just how Apple rolls. And then it'll be up to Google and its many partners to find the passing lane again.
Will Android tablets swamp the iPads like they did to the iPhone, or is this target moving too fast even for Google to hit it? Discuss in the comments below.