Google's Android gets a lift

There have been reports that Google's (GOOG) Android software could be a candidate to act as the operating system of netbooks being sold by several PC companies, including Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

There is some skepticism about the news, however, as Android has not yet run on anything other than a handset. It may not have the features to work well on any other devices or enough features to make it a success. It has also not been adopted by any of the larger cellular providers. T-Mobile, the number four operator in the U.S., uses Android.

The software operating system may be getting a boost, however. According to The New York Times, "T-Mobile plans to sell a home phone early next year and soon after a tablet computer, both running Android, according to confidential documents obtained from one of the company's partners."

Microsoft (MSFT) may still not have to worry because of T-Mobile's limited reach in the U.S. consumer market. But T-Mobile does have a large footprint in its home market in Germany. And large U.S. carriers will be watching the T-Mobile experiments very carefully. If the new home products catch on, Android, which is royalty-free, could gain significant adoption.

A year ago, Android seemed like a new software toy. Like many other Google initiatives, it has questionable prospects commercial success. That may be about to change.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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