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Android chief shares new OS, tab at D conference

by Howard Wolinsky

Andy Rubin, Google’s (GOOG) Android chief, gave the All Things D’s Dive into Mobile conference a glimpse at the near future Monday evening, showing off a new Motorola (MOT) tablet with video chat and a Google Maps for Android.

The MOTOPAD prototype tablet leverages both an early version of “Honeycomb” Android 3.0 OS and a 3D processor. Honeycomb is due out sometime in 2011.

A boost for struggling Motorola, which is splitting into two companies next month.

Google Watch at eWeek offers a preview from the D.

It was a big day for Rubin and his team, which had introduced the Nexus S, co-developed with Samsung (005930.KS) and running the new “Gingerbread” 2.3 version of Android.

Rubin was quoted at All Things Digital as saying 172 phones now run on Android, following the introduction two years ago of T-Mobile (DTEGY.PK) G1.

He was asked why Google didn’t shake up the business model with Nexus One. He said Google had hoped that the United States could follow the model in Europe where consumers pick a phone and then pick a service at a store, such as Carphone Warehouse (CPW.L).

Google had hoped to accomplish this all online. “We bit off a little more than we can chew,” Rubin told the conference.

He said Google is still pursuing the concept of an unlocked phone,  sold through traditional channels, such as Best Buy (BBY), rather than online.

Host, Walt Mossberg, observed that the Android phones take on more of the personality of carriers, rather than Google.

Rubin noted: “That’s the nature of open. That’s actually a feature of Android.”

Host Kara Swisher asked if Google considered itself the Microsoft (MSFT), ouch, of phones.

Rubin responded: “We’re probably more like the Linux of phones.”

He praised the iPhone: “I think everybody is embracing the iPhone. They are pretty open.”