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Can Android Inspire a Generation of New Thin Clients?

Can Android Inspire a Generation of New Thin Clients?
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We have known about Android running on PCs at least since the emergence of BlueStack and more recently with the release of an x86 compatible version of Android 4.0 ICS that can be installed on Linux, Mac and Windows systems. And we are seeing more products that push Android PCs into the business and enterprise segment. Nonsense or a trend you should keep on your radar?

Of course, an Android PC is unlikely to threaten the dominance of powerful, universal x86 computer systems that carry the IT burden of today's enterprises. However, as a targeted operating system that only requires modest hardware, there is certainly the thought whether Android is capable and robust enough to lead an innovation phase in the thin client segment. Keep in mind that the thin client segment is overdue for innovation that is aligned with cloud technology trends, which require a modern OS architecture to make sense in a world that is going through a massive change of hardware, software and user experience requirements.

The Pitch: Android is a PC Alternative in your Office

What got me thinking was a press release sent out by Giada, a Chinese manufacturer of cloud computing devices. At CES 2013, they demonstrated their Q11 mini PC, a compact computer based on a very basic ARM processor (1 Ghz) and equipped with a 2.5-inch HDD, an integrated battery that keeps the device running during power failures, 1080p support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, but not much else. There was no word on pricing, but similar devices (without a battery) are currently retailing for about $50 and the Q11 should certainly sell for less than $100. According to the manufacturer,

"the new system can be applied everywhere including multimedia systems for home and office, systems for hotels and gaming integrations, digital TV consoles, systems for control of digital interactive and street advertising panels, as well as components of automobile control systems, and in educational and medical offices. With an extremely compact size of 191x155x26 mm, the Giada ARM MiniPC Q11 is true competition to any typical full size x86 systems in energy consumption while providing up to 85% of energy savings in some applications."

True competition? Would you want to use an Android PC in a business environment?

Wolfgang Gruener is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. He is currently principal analyst at Ndicio Research, a market analysis firm that focuses on and disruptive technologies. An 18-year veteran in IT journalism and , he previously published TG Daily and was editor of Tom's Hardware news, which he grew from a link collection in the early 2000s into one of the most comprehensive and trusted technology news sources.

See here for all of Wolfgang's Tom's IT Pro articles.