Just when Motorola Mobility got Webtop working, word from sources is that Google ordered its demise. With the RAZR HD lacking Webtop, Verizon is selling off Lapdock 100′s for $50 out the door. We’ll explain why.
Google doesn’t want Android to be a desktop OS today. It’s clear why. Windows 8 is struggling to gain acceptance as a tablet-and-desktop operating system. Many are skeptical. Many don’t like the idea. What we have seen to-date from the Android world with “smartbooks” and “tablet netbooks” can only be tallied in the failures, not successes.
Also, Google knows that they will only get one shot on the desktop. Chrome OS is not that shot, but rather a side project aimed at offering thin clients as an experiment. Android will eventually be Google’s mainstream desktop operating system, but not for two more years… at least.
It’s no surprise, that we have to follow up our last editorial on Webtop going MIA, with the latest news; it’s dead, Jim. Sources around Google and Motorola Mobility have reported to PhoneNews.com that the orders came down from top brass to remove the feature from all new devices, including the DROID RAZR M, RAZR HD, and RAZR HD MAXX.
As we chronicled last time, we placed the Webtop platform on a deathwatch. Webtop 1.0 and 2.0 were dismal failures. Amazing technology boxed in by walls. The ability to run Linux and Android applications side-by-side was unparalleled at the time. Unfortunately, Motorola locked down Webtop, preventing any new applications from being authored. Firefox and desktop Flash were all you got. And, because of the lack of open source vetting, they didn’t run well.
Webtop 3.0, however, was a complete redesign. The platform took advantage of Android 4.0′s ability to dynamically change resolutions of apps, and enable Android apps to run full-screen. The platform eschewed desktop Linux application compatibility, but gained the ability to take nearly all Android apps, and turn them into desktop PC applications.
The Webtop interface also stalled due to poor executions in hardware. The original Lapdocks were terrible. They were oversized, and worse, not very functional. The keyboard and trackpad were both terrible; not good when you can’t access the touch screen, because the phone was secreted behind the lapdock. Worse, the position of the trackpad and keyboard made accidentally hitting the trackpad (while typing) a common occurrence. The result? You would be typing, and suddenly find text appearing in all the wrong places.
While still highly-priced, the Lapdock 100 fixed that. Word from Verizon is to execute Google’s kill order. Stores as of Friday knocked the price of Lapdock 100 units down to $49.99 out the door. A nearly $200 discount, and available to anyone, including non-Verizon customers.
It’s also important to note that Webtop 3.0 could run with an HDTV and Motorola’s HD dock, though hackers also managed to get the device working with a simple HDMI cable, and a software tweak that unlocked Bluetooth keyboard and mouse drivers to enable Webtop freely on any modern television. For YouTube, Hulu Plus, and countless other apps, this became a remarkable alternative to purchasing a set-top box.
The shame here is that Motorola had gotten it right. But, with Motorola still lagging on Android 4.0 upgrade releases, very few got to experience it properly. Bad feedback, caused by people not testing the right version, gave Google the moral high ground to execute a kill order on Webtop. Removing the Webtop platform from the Atrix HD was an opportunity for Google and Motorola to gauge community feedback. Clearly, not enough people were either aware of Webtop 3.0, or spoke loudly enough to change course.
Now folks will have to stick with Atrix 2, Droid RAZR, Droid 4, Droid Bionic, and even the lowly Motorola Photon 4G, if they want to enjoy Webtop 3.0.
Analysts at PhoneNews.com expect within the next two major Android releases, Google will integrate the ambitions of Webtop into the mainline Android platform. That said, despite the firewall, it’s clear Google is still running the show at Motorola.