Will 2014 be the year of the Android desktop?

Summary:As long as a system has a browser, a vast proportion of home users will be happy. Throw in a few apps, and that proportion of satisfied users climbs even higher. Is this enough to bring success for the Android desktop?

Let's face it; the year of the Linux desktop isn't going to happen. While Linux aficionados are just as fervent abut the platform as ever, Tux the Penguin never really caught on in either the home or the office.

But that doesn't mean that Linux might not indirectly have an influence the desktop PC, and that might happen thanks to the mobile operating system Android.

Android, a platform built on the Linux kernel, was designed for touchscreen smartphones, and has over the past few years enjoyed a great deal of success, migrating from phones to tablets and other devices such as TVs. It's a great multi-purpose operating system that can be customized for a wide array of devices, and while it's not free – many hardware makers have struck patent royalty deals with the Redmond giant – the platform gives OEMs a low-cost choice.

And if Android works on smartphones and tablets, then why not use have the operating system power a PC?

On Sunday, PC maker Lenovo released an Android-powered all-in-one living room multimedia PC . The idea is that $450 has enough grunt to do what most people want from a PC. It can browse the web, run apps, connect to social media sites, and play multimedia. It can't run Office or Crysis, but the average user cares little about such things.

As long as a system has a browser, a vast proportion of home users will be happy. Throw in a few apps, and that proportion of satisfied users climbs even higher.

I'm betting that the reason why the likes of Lenovo are eyeing Android has a lot to do with the success of the Google OS-powered Chromebooks. There are a lot of similarities between Google OS and Android, but the main difference as far as OEMs are concerned is that Android gives them a greater freedom to customize the system, making is useful beyond the Google universe.

But will 2014 be the year of the Android desktop? I got to be honest and say I'm not sure. Cheap tablets and netbooks proved that there was a market for cheap systems, but as we’re now transitioning into a post-PC world, I suspect that consumer appetite for even cheap PCs has subsided. Another issue will be clearly communicating to buyers (and, for that matter, sellers) that these are Android PCs and that they cannot run Windows applications. Failure to do this could result in much higher than usual returns. 

Topics: Hardware


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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