Why multi-booting Android on PCs is wrong headed.

The Android operating system has a lot going for it and has become a very useful player on the mobile device landscape. With recent advances leading up to the 3.0 (honeycomb) version, the OS has been able to go from it’s simpler, sometimes shoe-horned type of one size fits all, into a one size that fits all because it is truly meant to, sort of.

Now that 3.0 has arrived, and has finally been delivered to consumers on tablets, phones, and other interesting mobile devices, many companies are even suggesting it should boot on PCs too. This is truly a mistake. It’s fine for hobbyists to have access to the OS to boot on their PCs, but it would be much the same to dual-boot, say … WebOS on a PC. Really kind of pointless except for marketers at these companies to say “we have our own flavor of Android or some OS and it comes with every PC we sell.” It’s a good marketing game, but in the end it offers no true benefit to consumers as nothing has changed with the delivery of this OS except more pre-used space on a bundled PC from a branded PC maker.

Adding touch capabilities definitely makes Android 3.0 much better and up to date, as well as all the other speed, graphics, and many other optimizations, like increased hardware support, etc. that this new version offers. So you’d think that dual booting in a touch screen PC like the HP TouchSmart might make at least a little more sense. Personally I still say no, not even for the recently acquired WebOS.

The reason I’m saying this is wrong is very simple indeed, and it comes down to one word: Revolution

The addition of such OSes is just that. Extra. Fluff. Flab. Superfluous. Much like our appendix has been considered in our bodies, overall doesn’t make much sense, causes us problems if it gets messed up, and ultimately has to be removed if it does cause problems. Dual booting PCs to the other OS that customers didn’t order will surely expose them to it, but the problem is are we exposing them much like those who ride on a packed subway car near someone with the flu or like our children when we take them to a museum and provide a lot of explanation and hand holding.

Adding another OS to the PC landscape is a great idea, but an idea which has surely been rushed. Consumers and PC makers will both have to make an adjustment to the OS once this starts happening, but if it fails in the slightest, this type of integration will be viewed as a failure the same that most of us still run Windows and Mac OS today, and not Linux. That’s not to say that North America doesn’t have a pretty large base of Linux desktops. But the average consumer will stick with familiarity and ease of use, often one in the same.

So what can these companies do to get it right? I think it’s simple, but I’ll say it here: Start a revolution. Don’t just say how cool this OS is, or what it can do, but use that old Apple motto to seize the opportunity and “think different.” Go another direction and actually innovate, invent, and discover things that you can offer to people to make our lives easier. Not this “add a different topping on the same sandwich” approach and call it better or disguise it as choice. It isn’t. I don’t usually rant too much about this kind of stuff, but like so many example before, we live in a time when there is another opportunity to change how people that use computers and devices think or how those that don’t might be enticed to. Alternatively those people will change anyway and these companies will be left behind trying to catch up, a decade later.

The ball is now in your court HP, DELL, IBM, SAMSUNG, MOTOROLA, and the countless others out ere trying this approach. Bring real changes, or the world will change without you.

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