Would Android laptops have what it takes to invade Microsoft’s last bastion?

June 8, 2013
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But it didn’t work with Chromebook

Of course Google tried, and is still attempting, to take on the laptop space with the Chromebook, but it hasn’t really worked out as well as many had hoped. Whilst they’re decent products in their own rights and competitively priced too, Chromebooks don’t quite offer users the same experience as a traditional operating system and some users are probably a little concerned about the limitations posed by Internet requirements.

Chromebook

The Chromebook is definitely a love/hate piece of technology, Android on the other hand is much more “safe”.

The Chromebook, in my opinion, is a laptop aimed at quite a specific consumer, someone who works solely online, and for that reason it was never going to be a big hit with the traditional laptop market, performance enthusiasts, or the business sector. Chrome has recently introduced Packaged Apps, which add native app experiences to Google’s laptops, in an attempt to improve the experience and make it more of a competitor to Windows and OS X. But another API to code for is surely to be a pain for developers, especially as Chromebooks only make up a small porition of laptop market. Instead, Android may prove to be a better replacement if Google is looking for a native app platform, as plenty of developers are already working with it.

Android is much more of a traditional operating system, allowing users to install apps in the usual way and offering plenty of internal storage space. It basically functions in a way that most people will find familiar. Not to mention that Android is an established name in the computing space now and is sure to pull consumers to new products. Chromebooks on the other hand were attempting to do something different without the brand loyalty to back it up, which no doubt turned many consumers off.

Stick with what you know

This could really be the clincher for Android; consumers tend to pick devices which fit into whatever ecosystem they’re currently using. With Android smartphones and tablets making up a much larger share of the market than Windows, there’s a good chance that consumers will start to look at laptop products which fit in with their existing digital technologies. If you have apps, books, music, and various other products all linked with your Google account then it makes sense, from a consumer’s point of view, to start purchasing other products which can be linked with these accounts.

Consumers are interested in products which complement their existing digital technologies

It’s a similar situation to what saw Apple take off following the iPod, consumers starting using iTunes and gradually moving in to other Apple products.

Once you’re absorbed in the ecosystem it’s very hard to leave, and presenting consumers with a range of competitively priced laptops to accompany their other Android devices could really prove to be a strong selling point. Microsoft doesn’t have a strong system like this which ensures consumer loyalty across various platforms.

With well-known manufacturers like Samsung also supposedly aiming to release their own Android based laptops, Android will also be able to rely on the reputation of these companies to help adoption rates, unlike the Chromebook.

Not quite down and out

This isn’t to say that Microsoft is dead in the water just yet though, and any transition is going to take time. Microsoft still has gaming, which is the only reason I’m still using Windows and not Linux, and some dedicated software is still only available on its operating system. Businesses are certainly still very keen on Windows, and that’s definitely an area where I feel that Android won’t fair so well. But my question is how much longer will that last, and when it comes to the majority of consumers, does this stuff really matter anymore?

There are signals from other industries too that companies are keen to move away from the Microsoft brand. PC gaming giant Steam is now producing Linux versions of its games and Linux based hardware, gaming companies like Nvidia are starting to increasingly support Open-GL and similar graphics technologies over the Microsoft owned Direct X. Software has already become massively cross platform, with a wider range of developers supporting Android, Mac, and web platforms, as well as the old Windows brand. But again these transitions will take time.

We’ve already seen that PC sales are falling quickly, as mobile technology is definitely where the average consumer is spending his or her money. And laptops are the only market which is still predominantly Microsoft owned. If Google does make a major move into the space with competitively priced, powerful enough hardware then Microsoft could find itself making a last stand. And if Microsoft loses out I don’t see the company making a comeback.

Would you be prepared to ditch Microsoft for Android when it comes to all your computing needs, if you haven’t already? Has Microsoft had its day, or is Android still not quite up to scratch when it comes to providing consumers with a top of the line computing experience?

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