Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is This The Android I've Been Looking For? (Or, Why Windows 10 May Matter Less Than Expected)

Something new appeared in the world of computing today that could change everything forever, and almost nobody noticed.

I'm not talking about Windows 10, which was launched today. True, its rollout did not receive nearly the amount of press that earlier versions of Windows have received in their premieres. But what I'm talking about has received no mainstream coverage at all, as far as I can tell.

This is it: a company you've never heard of began a Kickstarter campaign to help them launch a new line of personal computers.

This is why it could change everything forever:

  • these new computers will run Android
  • they will cost no more than $50.

The company is Jide Tech, started by a trio of Google escapees. Their Kickstarter campaign asks for $50,000. As I write this, at 10:38 p.m., the total pledged is $906,163.

This is their Kickstarter video:



Sweet, yes? Without mainstream media coverage, and therefore, without the vast majority of people having heard of them or their computer, the Jide Tech folks are on their way to $1 million.

And they have 30 days to go.

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The slogan, "Less can be more," is pure genius. It avoids the didacticism of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's original dictum, "Less is more," and replaces it with an inviting sense of possibility. It seems to say, "Come play with us. Let's find out how much less can be how much more."

Love it.

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I learned about the Remix Mini only by accident, in a search sparked by a story about Windows 10 written by Davey Alba for Wired, titled, "Windows 10 Launches Today, But We're Still Waiting For The Important Stuff."

In it, Alba notes, "...PCs are the past," and says, "For the desktop OS, the real test is not how well it stacks up with Mac OS X, but how well it pushes people onto Microsoft’s online services, including Office 365, and onto other devices." (emphasis mine)

Reading that reminded me that what I have really wanted for some time now, is not the ability to run Windows on a mobile device, but the ability to run Android - the OS for my other devices - on a PC.

I was already familiar with the "Android PC" sticks that plug into the HDMI ports of modern TVs, and I have experimented with BlueStacks, the leading Android emulator for PCs. But neither of those felt like what I was really after - which was, to make Android my primary OS. Toward that desired end, I had even considered making my phone (a Samsung Galaxy S3) my primary computing device.

After reading Alba's piece, a search for "Android for PC" led to the announcement of the Android-based PC, the Remix Mini.

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Being Android-based means that this new PC will offer a degree of compatibility with most of the world's smartphones that Windows can only dream of.

Having a cost of $50 or less means that...I can't even comprehend what it means. I think the impact will only be limited by the number of machines they are able to manufacture. If they are able to manufacture to scale, it could mean the end of the digital divide.

Then there's the form factor. Having enough of those cute little things come to market could change many, many people's definition of a computer.

I am writing this on a Windows 7 machine, which has been registered with Microsoft to receive Windows 10. I am now nervous about receiving Windows 10, so now I'm a little scared to turn my computer off, feeling certain that it will reboot to an entirely new computing environment. It might be a better computing environment, but the degree to which it will be different makes me nervous.

I would not be nervous about moving to an Android computer. I would keep the Windows machine around for running Quickbooks, but that may be about it.

Yes, I am already planning my transition.

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The Remix Mini is the second product that I know of that has appeared on Kickstarter this year that could undermine the computer hardware industry as we know it, by offering a computer for a destructively low price - by which I mean, a price so low that it destroys the reasons for paying much more.

The first? CHIP, The World's First Nine Dollar Computer. If I recall correctly, The Next Thing Co. also sought $50,000 in their campaign, which launched May 7. They received pledges for $2,071,927.

CHIP deserves more that I can say about it now. The point of this mention is - 2015 will be looked back upon as the year in which two separate companies came out of nowhere, raised more than $1,000,000 each, and began manufacturing computers using approaches to both software and hardware that went totally against what the big boys were doing.

I don't necessarily wish Microsoft, Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, or Acer harm.

But man, I wish these guys success.
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