Will 2014 be the year of the Android desktop?

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?

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TOPICS: Hardware
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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. 

Topic: Hardware

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51 comments
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  • Eeeeek.

    The less Google in my life the better. No thanks, and no way.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Your response has been noted, Steve...

      And we will always be there for you.
      dotfoot
    • lol rofl

      but you don't have problem with ms syping you for nsa.

      hypocrite.
      notomsnotonsa
      • I can turn off all connection to MSFT

        And still having a functional PC, you can't do that with Android. Its ironic that so many that used to complain about how IE was ingrained into Windows don't seem to have a problem with Google doing the same but worse with Android.

        And $450? What are they smoking? You could build a Windows PC that does 1080P for cheaper than that. Heck pick up any of the AMD APU mini-PCs or an Intel NUC and there ya go, less cost and you CAN run Crysis if you want, AAMOF I've ran Crysis I on an AMD E350 just for the heck of seeing what my netbook would do, with the lowest settings it ran good enough to play but I preferred Portal and HL2 which ran great.
        PC builder
  • Well, I hope so!

    What the Desktop PC market has been lacking for the last 3 decades is competition, yes, I know that there are lots of Mac users out there, but they account for less than 10 percent of the desktop PC market.

    Android is a solid performer, that is probably familiar to more users than Windows 8 is, I think that if these devices are priced competitively as new comers, they could do very well.

    Once these take off, and I think that they will, I expect that Microsoft will make an Office version for Android...
    SirHuxley
    • RE: Well, I hope so!

      Aren't all those Linux distros that are available for free supposed to be the competition? Are they lacking apps? What would make Android on desktop so much better then any other available OS?
      Laminarija
      • google doesn't shove them into everybody's throat?

        n/t
        vpupkin
        • They actually do

          Their distribution model for Android is exactly the same as the one Microsoft is employing. Android in this example comes preloaded, just as Windows comes preloaded on an OEM pc.

          With one exception, Microsoft doesn't spy on you and sell your data to the highest bidder.
          sjaak327
      • pre loading, silly

        These things come preloaded with android and all the hardware supported. Plus android apps can run on any manufacturer's system. I.e., android has none of the traditional problems of desktop linux (and I say that as a desktop linux user). What it's lacking are desktop apps. Port LibreOffice to this thing, and you're really gonna up the threat.
        little noodles
        • Only one reason why OEMs like these

          They can sell them for $150 more than they cost to make. That's more profit than 7 $300 laptops or $400 PCs for what is basically the design, assembly and shipping cost of a monitor.
          symbolset
      • What would make it better...

        What would make Android on the desktop so much better than any other available OS? (I'm assuming you're talking about OS's other than Windows) It would come pre-installed by major OEMs like Lenovo. That coupled with the fact that people are familiar with the Android system due to the phone and tablet popularity make it much better than other OS's.
        benched42
        • It would come pre-installed by major OEMs like Lenovo.

          like OEM's preload windows? I am not sure how that make them better than the other desktop os's.
          Meansman
    • If Only

      I hope so too, but there's one thing that stands in my way. AKH's comment -

      "As long as a system has a browser, a vast proportion of home users will be happy"

      That may be true, but if a full featured (well developed, non-buggy, and flash capable) desktop class browser were available for Android the combo would be a world killer.
      louishelps
  • Wait for 2015?

    So far all we're seeing is things on the order of more all-in-ones with touch that sit at a reclined angle so you can crouch over them to compensate for gorilla arm.

    What we need is for Google to embrace existing extensions or create their own Android multi-window and multi-monitor on large screens, add easy-access DPI settings to control text and icon size. Then the OEMs needs to put out powerful small form factor boxes people can use with existing monitors, keyboards, and mice.

    Touch doesn't need to be so prominent, and keeping it so just prevents software developers from embracing the large-screen KVM model of use Android desktops need to become successful.
    dilettante
    • By adding the things you mention to Android,

      and with support of other device components, and in order to support PC-like applications, then Android will just become another Linux or Windows or Mac OS. The more you require from a simple OS, the more it becomes like the competition which so many claim to be too big and clunky.
      adornoe
  • Think you're right

    Their heart is in the right place (and Android is a wonderful way to do it) but you hit it right on the head. A "PC" that is not "a PC" is still a PC. It may run Android, Chrome OS (or Google OS as it is starting to be called - for good reason), iOS, even Windows RT, but it is past its time. A couple of years ago, maybe. But now, a good Android tablet will do the same thing, and even display on the TV via stuff like Chromecast and Miracast. Thus, no need. Besides, the game consoles have the gateway to that position - think Steam box - since the XBOX and PS have already got those who want that comfortable.

    For proof, think Media Center PCs. At their prime, some were quite ingenious, user-friendly devices. But they never took off. And further proof, Smart TVs have not goosed the sales of TVs one iota. Size and price (bigger for smaller) seems to be it. But hey, gotta give them credit for trying!
    jwspicer
  • Android lag, just what the desktop has been missing

    no tks
    everss02
    • Windows lags a lot more

      And it freezes, and sometimes there are long seconds when nothing happens.
      The thing is that it's not very important for a desktop OS.
      Android on desktops have many problems, you just pointed a strength of it compared with the competition.
      AleMartin
      • You Need

        A machine with more power, and/or probably haven't removed cookies, cleaned your cache, or removed invalid registry entries for god knows how long.
        louishelps
    • android lag what are you talking about?

      i have never seen any android lag on any device, starting with ancient htc models.

      and windows defined the lag
      notomsnotonsa