It is good to see that the tablet world is getting more crowded, the side effects of which are that end users are going to be the beneficiaries of more choice. Sharp has announced a few new e-reader "media" tablets based on the Android O/S.
Some features touted in their press release:
1. “Automatic Scheduled Delivery Service” for periodical publications, including newspapers and magazines. Content from the most recent editions can be delivered and read whenever desired.
2. Rich graphic capabilities and an easy-to-use interface that give full consideration to the book culture of Japan.
3. “Evolution” of the terminal devices with periodic software updates.
They are backing this up with their own cloud based E-Bookstore. Their official promo video is here. While this is in Japanese (English starts around 6 minutes in), you get the idea.
The devices will have WiFi and users will be able to surf the web, view documents, play games, and communicate with others via a “social app”. Other then that, they don't go into much detail about use as a multifunctional Android device but I would expect e-reader is not the end game for this tablets.
With more and more tablet devices coming out over the next few months all based on the Android O/S, you have to wonder if we are seeing history repeat itself; the Apple / PC thing all over again. Apple out first, yet proprietary and over controlling / over protective of the hardware and software with the iPhone / iPad. Although this time instead of Microsoft (so far), it's Google with Android, open platform and letting each manufacturer innovate in their own way.
While some might suggest Apple is protecting their users with the controlled environment of the app store and others might say that the Android Market is Open, yet the wild wild west; there is a place for both. Apple has taken the world to a place we had previously struggled to reach in mobile computing. In fact, one might say they have opened Pandora's box for how these devices will grow through apps and widgets as they evolve. As we have seen in the short time since Android has been available, the manufacturers and software developers have ideas for where these devices can go next and I for one want to see that innovation available for users to choose their own path for their own devices. I believe this will result in for the best possible fit to their way of working, playing, reading, listening, etc. I guess we will see what the market thinks soon enough.
Related (if not opposing thoughts relative to the App Store vs the Market)
Will Android's openness mean we need Antivirus for these devices?