HP may use Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system for some of its mini laptop computers, or netbooks, the WSJ reports.
If it happens, this is a win for Google: Android has not taken off for mobile phones as fast as the company would have liked, so any play it gets on netbooks and other computers is a bonus. (Perhaps it means HP will also build Android-based mobile phones at some point?)
This is also potentially a big loss for Microsoft (MSFT), which is counting on its next version of Windows to be a big winner, especially on netbooks, which represent the fastest growing sector of the PC industry. Gartner expects 21 million netbooks to ship this year, up from 12 million last year. Meanwhile, it expects overall PC shipments to decline 12% from 2008.
Will other netbook makers follow suit? HP has proven it’s the most willing to venture beyond the safety of Windows. Last fall, BusinessWeek reported that HP was even experimenting with its own operating system.