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Why Acer's new Android desktops are a game-changer

This year at CES, Acer is introducing two new desktops – yes, you read that correctly, desktops – running the wildly successful variant of Linux known as Android. They're cleverly positioning these exactly as I've been predicting for a long time: as monitors. They're monitors with video inputs that the luddites can connect to a computer running Windows 8, complete with touchscreen input. But they also have a full Android stack available, which will operate independently with no external computer attached.

Why is this relevant?

At the current price point set by Acer, it isn't. However, we should hope to expect that this will become the norm for all new monitors, just like televisions now include “Smart TV” features. Mass production of SoC (system on a chip) components will make it a no-brainer for even cheap monitors.

Now imagine your typical Windows luddite, trying to get something done on their old-fashioned desktop computer, when Windows does what it always does: it fails. If our luddite has technical knowledge, he may be faced with setting aside his work or research or whatever, and spending the next couple of hours repairing or reinstalling Windows. If our luddite is a nontechnical consumer, he will have to stop and wait for someone to come and help – or, possibly, spending money at the local computer shop having Windows fixed again.

But wait! Our luddite suddenly remembers that there is another computer built into the monitor. He unplugs the mini-tower and boots into Android. He's back on the Internet and he has a working computer again. The day is saved! After a few days, he begins to realize that he doesn't need the Windows hassle, and stuffs the mini-tower up into the attic, never to be seen again. Our newly minted non-luddite is now a happy Linux desktop user. He doesn't ever have to worry about viruses, spyware, lost data, or being regularly gouged for money by Microsoft.

This, my friends, is the Network Computing vision of the mid 1990's. Thanks to mobile data, ubiquitous Internet connectivity, and excellent Linux client operating systems like Android, it is rapidly becoming a reality. Windows has no place in the post-PC era, and Android desktops are accelerating the pace of adoption.



Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sat Jan 04 2014 15:42:33 EST
12 comments | permalink
themgt  says:  Sat Jan 04 2014 20:03:44 EST
Only that Android as a mass-market desktop will attract virii like a rotten corpse attracts flies. And the whole app shitpile already reaks of win98 in it's best days.

fleeb  says:  Sun Jan 05 2014 07:33:35 EST

Well, Android is already attracting viruses. And virus protection.

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Sun Jan 05 2014 17:32:30 EST
My Android devices do not have viruses, therefore there are no viruses on Android. It's easy to make assertions if you choose your sample set carefully

Stefaans Mostert  says:  Mon Jan 06 2014 04:42:52 EST
Ola There are other os's to choose from think of the KDE for tablet version and I am sure Ubuntu will come up with something.

Carling  says:  Mon Jan 06 2014 05:45:14 EST
My goodness there are 100 other Linux distributions to choose from. after all Android is Linux, Wait till the new Linux dual boot phones hit the streets, Then we have the Mozilla phone ready to hit the streets, That will set the Apple juice tears flowing hard and fast. I can see Mac in court having everything band from the American market. so they can keep control of the American market

Carling  says:  Mon Jan 06 2014 05:55:14 EST
Now here is something else for mac to worry about in China , The first official Ubuntu phone has been spotted on a Chinese website, making Meizu the first hardware partner for Canonical.

themgt  says:  Mon Jan 06 2014 06:57:00 EST
Well, first of all, Ubuntu phone and Tizen crap are still vaporware, but you can buy an actual Linux mobile phone from - at least from within europe. Or try the bay. Second, there are of course other (or rather real) linux distributions, but they wont be preinstalled on touchscreen computer monitors. Because they are real operating systems and not the degenerated ugly stepsister of an OS, they will be lot more trouble to maintain. People actually could easily wreck them, whereas you would need root on an android screen. But you are overestimating the chances of those linuxes on phones, the tight integration and vast ecosystem of Apple devices is not easily wrestled down on its knees, not even by Android. I do love my Jolla and I like linux systems, but for the same price of my Jolla I could have bought an Iphone 4s and I would have the tightest connection between my Macbook Air and the phone. Contacts, Calendars, Mail in permanent sync, photostream and other iCloud benefits, the integration of the maps feature into the desktop OSX. That is stuff that simply does not work easily, conveniently and reliable on linux, unfortunately. There will be always a market for apple products, as there will be a market for android devices. How many people really want/need linux phones remains to be evaluated. At least in Finnland, the provider ISP said that Jolla outsold the Iphones, that is a good sign. Disclaimer: This is not an advertisement and I am no fanboy of any camp.

ken  says:  Mon Jan 06 2014 21:51:42 EST
@themgt, it is heartening that we have those like yourself who are willing to spend time stopping by and setting everyone straight.

themgt  says:  Tue Jan 07 2014 08:21:13 EST
I aim to please, @ken

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Tue Jan 07 2014 12:59:00 EST
The question that really needs to be answered is, what does Ubuntu Phone (or tizen or whatever) offer, over and above an ordinary Android installation.
"Freedom" isn't an answer, as Android is open enough to satisfy all but the most vehement RMS-disciples. The barrier to entry is application availability.
If even Microsoft cannot acquire mobile market share how will Canonical?

Any new entry to the mobile market will need to offer something outstanding, over and above what's available from the current market leading platforms.
Yes, it absolutely can be done, but so far I don't see anything compelling.
I would be very happy to be proven wrong!

themgt  says:  Tue Jan 07 2014 14:33:13 EST
I completely agree with the "app availability", the openness is something I have my doubts about. I think it is about time for an alternative to appear, Android without Googles all-seeing-eye is still plain ugly and broken from a usability point of view. IOS lacks a terminal, but the aesthetically pleasing and usable, but the all-seeing-eye is builtin as well. Jolla has a compatibility layer/emulator for Android, so I get the benefits of Play Store/Yandex/Amazon/F-Droid. The apps mostly run smooth, playing Angry Birds or Cut the Rope is fluent, for example. But I'd rather have native apps for vnc/rdp/evernote and whatnot. Native apps are currently scarce, but it is increasing by the day, full hipster compatibility is almost achieved, since whatsapp, foursquare and facebook are already avaiable. (Well, FB, G+ and Twatter are integrated by upstream anyway.) WRT MS Phones, I read today that somewhere, somehow, Winphones outsold the Iphones. But this might be creative math applied to a well chosen set of data. The only gimmick Canonical pulls is this "turn your mobile into an ultra sucky PC if plugged into periphery". I doubt that it will outperform a cheap netbook. Tizen is already dead I guess. If Intel and Samsung were not able to pull their thumbs out of their asses during the last 5 years or so, they probably never will. Kind of doing the Openmoko.

dothebart  says:  Tue Jan 07 2014 15:44:46 EST
oh, lenovo has something similar with a 4k resolution monitor for 1.2K$ Webos - shoot me again I ain't dead yet - seems to be stillborn on bigger lucky goldstar tvs, fighting against firefox os. A collegue has the new lumia - and the first sight of the little clunky cam which is thicker above the rest of the mobile has a very positive aspect: if you put it flat on the table you can read stuff without problems because of it doesn't lay down flat. Interesting times.

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