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No Chrome-Android merger, at least in the next year or two

Matt Hamblen | May 14, 2013
New Android chief expected to clarify role of the two OSes at Google I/O this week; analysts say keeping them apart is confusing, wasteful

Moorhead said developer tools for both, Chromium and the Android SDK, should merge as well.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Groups, added: "Two different OSes with overlapping missions seems to be an unnecessary complication. The Chrome OS needs sales volume, while Android needs to be fixed. Android is very insecure and has too much intellectual property that doesn't belong to Google."

Enderle said regardless of what Pichai told Wired, Android and Chrome will merge. "I don't see much choice, as they aren't sustaining two platforms successfully at the moment," he said.

The different versions of Android used by smartphone makers and wireless carriers have caused user frustration due to update delays and led to security worries for some IT shops. Despite these issues, Android has grown to become the largest smartphone platform globally, with about 70% of total shipments in the past year, according to Gartner and IDC.

Some analysts said there's a possibility that Google could roll out new developer tools during or after Google I/O that bring Android and Chrome closer.

Today, there's a version of the Chrome browser that can run on the Android OS, but there are no Android apps that can run on Chrome laptops. Some rumors have suggested Google might finally announce the ability to edit Office documents in Chrome.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, urged more commonality between the two platforms. She noted that Android devices running with a Chrome browser give users the option of conducting tasks while browsing the Internet or running apps, while the Chrome OS today does not offer such flexibility.

"Furthermore, if you have a smartphone and you invest in an Android app for a tablet, I would like to share that same experience on a Chromebook," she said. "Having the commonality across platforms fits with usage patterns, where users have more than one mobile device or households have multiple devices."

Other news at Google I/O
Last fall, Google users predicted this week's I/O would bring the appearance of Android 5.0, also called Key Lime Pie. But several analysts said there's widespread agreement that 5.0 has been delayed in favor of a more incremental upgrade of Jelly Bean, or Android version 4.2, to version 4.3, with support for a Bluetooth low energy spec and OpenGL for Embedded Systems 3.0, which provides tools for graphics on devices like smartphones.

It's also possible that Google is waiting to launch Android 5.0 until after Apple announces its iOS 7 possibly at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June.

Rumors have also pointed to an upgrade to the Nexus 7 tablet, giving it a faster processor and a high-resolution screen. Such improvements could be seen as providing competition for an expected upcoming iPad Mini with Retina display.


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