There have been so many Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) launches recently that it's already getting tough to tell one from another. As well as the OS, for far all of them have had one other feature in common - NVIDIA's Tegra 2 SoC.
But smartphone-maker HTC decided to back that trend this morning by launching an Android tablet that is neither Honeycomb, nor Tegra 2.
We were at the HTC press event this morning, but as is so often the way at press events, the news was covered more quickly by our colleagues back in the UK. But we did get a sense (no pun intended) from the event and from a follow-up interview with HTC UK boss Jon French, of how HTC is positioning its tablet and five new handsets.
Here's a table of what was launched, the precise Qualcomm chip, which wasn't announced at the event, and HTC's positioning
||For Facebook obsessives
||A different take on the tablet
Of these the Flyer chip is a surprise as we thought it only clocked to 1GHz, and that it was more likely to be the APQ8060 found in the new HP tablet.
When we spoke to French, we started by asking why Facebook is such a big deal for HTC. "Facebook has become a ‘must have' for many - half a billion people can't be wrong." While many other companies have produced phones optimised for social networking, or event Facebook specifically, the differentiator for HTC seems to be the ‘one button' simplicity of the Salsa and Cha Cha. French stressed this isn't easy to do, which is why others haven't.
Then we asked why the Flyer is not launching with Honeycomb. The official line is that, due to the tablet-optimised, 3D UI flavour of HTC Sense that is being used on the Flyer, the Android version is less important.
But our feeling is that a) HTC didn't fancy going with Tegra 2 for whatever reason and b) Google is being unhelpful about the precise launch date of Honeycomb. So it's easier for some OEMs, such as HTC and ASUS, to just announce a tablet with a version of Android they know they can optimise now, and upgrade to Honeycomb later.
On that note, isn't it odd how companies are now launching Android 2.4 devices when, to the best of our knowledge, there has been no messaging from Google on this new version? From what we gather it's just a couple of tweaks, and thus not worthy of being called Ice Cream, or whatever, but you'd think there would be some kind of formal announcement.
On that note, we asked French when we can expect to see the Honeycomb update for the Flyer and he said Q2. Given that French gave us a lunch date of sometime in May for the Flyer, that should mean no more than a six week wait for Honeycomb, even if you're an early adopter. We also asked if the update would be over the air and were told yes.
UPDATE - 19:00 16 Feb 2011: We've recently been informed that the version of Android the products above will launch with is called '2.3.3', not 2.4. Sigh.