Perhaps this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) should be renamed “AES” for Android Electronics Show — given all the handsets and tablets featuring the Google mobile OS that are being shown and rolled out. And today Google provided a sneak preview of the tablet version of Android (3.0), dubbed “Honeycomb.”
The screens and the video released reflected an obviously different UI than we’ve come to know from previous versions of Android. It claims to be “built entirely for tablet,” with the implication that 3.0 won’t show up on Android handsets — or in the same way at least. If we don’t see an Android 3.0 for smartphones it may fuel continued fragmentation of the Android platform. We’ll see.
Android Honeycomb features include:
- Google Maps 5 with 3D interactions and offline reliability
- Google eBooks
- Google Talk, which now allows you to video and voice chat with any other Google Talk enabled device
Most Android tablets (more than a dozen are being shown at CES) feature a front-facing camera to enable video calls/chat. The iPad doesn’t yet have a camera of any kind; however the iPad 2 is widely expected to be announced very soon and it will almost certainly reveal a front-facing camera for Face Time, Skype video calls, Fring and others.
According to new comScore consumer survey data cited by the Wall Street Journal Android has now passed the iPhone in terms of overall US smartphone market share:
- RIM: 33.5 percent
- Android: 26 percent
- iPhone: 25 percent
Nielsen data show Android outselling the iPhone among recent US smartphone buyers but still leading the Google platform overall:
The Nielsen metrics reflect the following smartphone shares:
- iPhone: 28.6 percent
- RIM: 26.1 percent
- Android: 25.8 percent
Whether the comScore data or the Nielsen data are correct, Android continues to gain share and will probably maintain its momentum. The iPhone may be able to continue growing once it’s released by Verizon later in Q1 or Q2.
This three-way smartphone horse race may be leaving little room for Microsoft’s new Windows Phones or HP Palm devices.
Microsoft previously said that it sold 1.5 million Windows Phones in six weeks. However, these figures refer to OEM-carrier sales and not ultimate consumer sales numbers, which have yet to be revealed.