The next PC game-changer: The Android-powered PC

The PC industry is stagnating, with consumers shifting to iOS and Android-powered tablets and smartphones. If consumers like Android so much — currently over 1.5 million new devices are activated daily — then why not give them Android-powered PCs?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

So far, the notebook market is dominated by two players, Windows and OS X, but there's an operating system that could drop into this mix and be highly disruptive — Android.

There's been a lot of discussion bouncing around the tech blogosphere about Intel's plans to get all disruptive and start supporting Android on devices that will cost in the region of $200.

While Microsoft might not be happy about being sidelined by a company that was once one of its biggest supporters, this is exactly what the PC industry needs.

Think this is a huge leap? It isn't. Some of Intel's Atom processors are already compatible with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

PCs aren't selling, and partly, this is down to price. PCs as we know them aren't cheap, and part of the reason for this is how much Microsoft charges for Windows licenses. OEMs tell me that even with the new Windows 8 price cuts, it's hard to compete with free operating systems.

Android is "free". iOS is "free". OS X is "free". (Technically, none are free, but the consumer price is $0.) Windows is not, and increasingly, price-conscious consumers are asking what Microsoft is giving them in exchange for their dollars.

Given the way that buyers (consumers and enterprise alike) have embraced Android on smartphones and tablets — activations of new devices sit at 1.5 million daily, or 45 million every month — it makes sense to give consumers what they want, and put this operating system onto notebooks, convertibles, and hybrid systems.

And why leave it there? Why not go the whole way and put Android onto desktop systems?

But what about Chrome OS? Doesn't this operating system fill in any gap that's potentially left for Android?

I don't think it does, because Chrome OS is all about cloud services and buying into the Google ecosystem. Android on the other hand, is more open and allows users to take more control over their data and apps. While an all-cloud existence works for some, having apps, local storage, and a flourishing Google Play Store are compelling.

And at $200, PCs suddenly become attractive in a way that they weren't before. A PC in every room starts to become a reality, and this is good for both OEMs who sell the hardware, and good for developers who suddenly have a whole new platform to develop for.

Related stories

Editorial standards