Google's Ice Cream Sandwich May Already Be Melting

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At least Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) fast. A fresh report from Computerworld out of this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona says that version 5.0 of the Android operating system could reach market this fall. Version 4.0, playfully known as "Ice Cream Sandwich," officially went live in November.

Writer Matt Hamblen confirmed in an interview with Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer that the company's goal is "one major release a year with some maintenance releases" in between, which suggests 5.0 would arrive sometime after Halloween and before the holiday shopping season.

Color me confused. My Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn't yet have access to Ice Cream Sandwich, yet Google is already eyeing ways to make its most advanced 'droid obsolete? How about some love for those of us still working through Honeycomb?

(Cue Alan Rickman voice.) So be it. Innovation is a fast-paced business, after all.

In all seriousness, while the device owner in me would prefer to see the Big G care for its entire device ecosystem before moving onto a new OS, the investor in me applauds aggressive R&D. Mobile computing is a tough industry that's only getting tougher. Swift and expert engineering is required to keep up.

Just ask Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) . Earlier today, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu issued a research note saying that checks indicated the BlackBerry is still losing to iOS and Android, while Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows Phone is gaining momentum ahead of plans to team with Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) to offer a sharply discounted smart handset to U.S. buyers.

How, exactly, Google's commitment to rapidly iterating Android will come to fruition remains to be seen. But in the past, developers have taken issue with the company making it difficult for developers to support apps across multiple versions. The Android Upgrade Alliance, announced at last year's Google I/O conference, was to address this issue, but at less than a year in, it's too early to judge that program's effectiveness.

Which brings us back to Google, moving fast and furiously. Will the rush end badly for investors? I don't think so, but then, I've owned the stock for years. You also needn't bet on Google or Apple or any other handset maker in order to profit from the popularity of smart devices. The Motley Fool recently identified a hidden winner in a new special report entitled "The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution." The research is free, but only for a limited time. Click here to get your copy now.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings, and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or on Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nokia, Microsoft, Google, and Apple; creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft; and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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