Cellular World Congress 2016
A startup comprised of a trio of ex-Google engineers is doing one thing Google has roundly did not do: make Android compelling on bigger display units like tablets and even PCs.
Jide Know-how, which was based in 2014 and raised $1.6 million on Kickstarter final summer time with a pitch to construct “the world’s first true Android PC”, has tweaked the platform to make it somewhat extra like Home windows — including a activity bar and a help for a number of home windows the place totally different chunks of app content material might be positioned and peeked at on display, or maximized for full display use. The thought being to enhance productiveness when utilizing Android on bigger display units.
Jide launched its “customized engineered” Android model, Remix OS, in alpha as a free obtain in January this yr and now has had multiple million downloads, in response to co-founder David Ko, talking in an interview with TechCrunch.
“The thought is it seems like a traditional PC surroundings,” he says, demoing the software program. “It’s like Home windows. There’s a file supervisor, you possibly can drag and drop — identical to a traditional PC.”
The primary hardware product operating Remix OS was a two-in-one pill (pictured under) that comes with a keyboard which launched a few yr in the past — extra as an idea system to point out off the platform. That was adopted with a crowdfunded $70 mini laptop computer ($forty to Kickstarter backers), now promoting by way of Amazon. After which at CES this yr Jide launched the OS as a free obtain.
“The thought could be very easy. Take a look at the historical past of Android. It began off roughly 9 years in the past, began with a cellular phone, advanced into tablets, TV and you then get wearables in addition to final yr they got here up with Android auto. All of them has one factor in widespread — they’re all for consuming content material. I feel it’s a pure development that Android will transfer into the productiveness area,” says Ko, discussing Jide’s thesis on productiveness and cellular units.
“Take a look at it within the subsequent 5, ten years. What concerning the subsequent billion individuals coming on-line — the subsequent 5 billion individuals coming on-line. More than likely they’re going to be utilizing a Android smartphone. So the Android ecosystem will get stronger and stronger and other people, notably within the rising market once they first come on-line they may say ‘Android is the computing platform’.”
“So we consider that the way forward for the computing platform goes to be Android,” he provides.
Whereas, in recent times, PC gross sales have declined and lagged far behind the expansion in smartphones (albeit cellular’s progress engine can also be slowing as mature markets at the moment are saturated with smartphones), Ko says Jide isn’t banking on a renaissance in PC gross sales per se. However slightly on the broader idea of a cellular “productiveness area” — so individuals making use of several types of cellular units (e.g. laptops, mini laptops, two-in-one pill-plus-keyboard mixtures) — which may supply the promise of higher effectivity as long as there’s a bigger display within the combine.
“We now have seen final yr pill gross sales have been dropping however the quickest rising phase is definitely two-in-one type issue [devices],” notes Ko. “It grew 200 per cent final yr in 2015 and this yr the projection goes to be one other robust progress on this phase. So we consider that the massive display type issue individuals can simply deliver one system — as an alternative of bringing a number of system.”
“Lots of people use tablets for consuming content material… Why can’t your pill be your main gadget as properly?” he provides.
“Final yr it was a really clear sign; iPad Professional got here out saying tablets is usually a productiveness system. We additionally had Google’s Pixel C… additionally popping out with a keyboard.”
In TechCrunch’s assessment of the latter system, we famous that “what’s lacking is a cut up-display view in Android and that’s a disgrace, provided that the display can be good for that”. So Jide is getting into that productiveness hole to offer the multi-display home windows that permit for an improved multitasking expertise on Android.
“The best way that I checked out it’s Google is sending a really clear sign that Android is usually a productiveness area,” provides Ko, once more referencing the Pixel C. “It’s telling builders, telling the world that the subsequent model of Android almost certainly could have all of the options that a PC would have.”
However why then isn’t Google doing what Jide has executed with Android? Ko argues it’s because the corporate is now just too giant to develop options quick sufficient vs a small fleet-of-foot startup — noting, as an example, that Android now solely will get one main model replace per yr vs the half-yr improve cycle it had in earlier years. A startup can simply transfer quicker, he provides.
A startup may also put monetization on ice whereas it focuses on rising utilization — which is strictly what Jide is doing. Remix OS is free to obtain, and Jide is not pushing a licensing mannequin on OEMs — they get it free too — so it’s not taking any income at this level.
So how then will it generate income off of a productiveness-tweaked model of Android in future? (Assuming in fact it’s not merely hoping to innovate its approach again to the Mountain View mothership by way of the acquisition route…)
On this, Ko says he thinks promoting is a nasty match for a productiveness-targeted expertise — for apparent (distraction-based mostly) causes. Likewise he doesn’t see mileage in creating a further app retailer to attempt to compete with the breadth and depth of Google Play.
Fairly, he says the monetization technique will probably be tied to associate priorities. And one other ‘P’ phrase: pre-installs. “There are talks with a few of our companions. 2016 goes to be an enormous yr for us partnering with lots of OEM branding utilizing Remix OS for PC. They’ve given us a number of suggestions on potential monetization. To begin with further providers. Numerous these further providers probably pre-putting in a few of the productiveness apps, and doing rev sharing,” he says.
“I’ll offer you an instance. For instance Microsoft Workplace 365. One of many key issues for Microsoft is they’re dropping out on this battle. As a result of GMS [Google Mobile Services] is preinstalled on all Android units. So Google Docs, Google Spreadsheet, Google Slides, it’s all already pre-put in. So the subsequent billion individuals once they take a look at productiveness they may assume that Google Docs and Google Apps can be their productiveness. So Microsoft Workplace probably will probably be dropping out within the rising markets.”
And from that logic it’s however a brief hop to the thought that Microsoft may wish to — or have to — pay an Android productiveness platform to pre-set up its personal productiveness money cow.
How the tech wheel of fortune turns…
Google and productiveness
Unsurprisingly, given its personal piqued curiosity in Android’s potential as a productiveness platform (with the Pixel C) — and the very fact all three Jide co-founders are ex-Googlers — Google has additionally been taking an lively curiosity in what Jide has been doing with its Remix OS, in response to Ko.
“Google is concerned with how we did it. And clearly we’ve validated that area as properly. We’ve raised $1.6 million on Kickstarter. They usually’re like ‘wait, maintain on — truly individuals do need Android as a PC…’” he says. “They’ve requested us the technical aspect as properly… They did ask us how did you do that. As a result of Android by no means opened up all its APIs in multitasking and multi home windows.”
“The UX has all the time been missing in a way. The consumer expertise has all the time been missing for Google. As a result of, as you stated, it’s predominantly an engineering [centric company]. It’s performance. It’s optimization. And we spent numerous time on the UX aspect,” he provides.
Ko reckons Google will definitely be stepping up its personal productiveness-targeted recreation on Android this yr — with an eye on raining on Microsoft’s Floor pill productiveness celebration.
“For those who ask me I feel Google is definitely doing one thing just like this. If I’ve to guess I might guess 2016 they are going to be launching one thing just like this… Clearly Pixel C was a step in the direction of that course,” he says. “And clearly the 2-in-one type elements are predominantly within the Wintel options. We’re seeing a robust progress in Wintel. And… Android want to get into that area as properly.
“As a result of it’s large. We’re taking a look at 1.5 billion PC units on the market and other people nonetheless do use PC. If you work you continue to want a laptop computer, you continue to want a keyboard and mouse. So what concerning the subsequent billion individuals, the subsequent 5 billion individuals. What are they going to make use of in the event that they must be productive?”
Mountain View does in fact even have one other PC effort within the type of Chrome OS. However the all the time-on connectivity facet of Chrome’s cloud books makes for a really totally different proposition vs Android apps which permit for offline utility, argues Ko.
He provides that Google has additionally been predominantly pushing Chrome OS for the schooling market quite than for a common productiveness/enterprise use-case. And provided that Remix OS shouldn’t be tethered to the cloud, he sees a lot of potential to develop utilization in rising markets particularly — the place a requirement that a PC be cloud-related might be seen as an obstacle.
“China, US, Europe has robust downloads however we’re seeing additionally rising markets, for instance Indonesia, India, Brazil has very robust progress within the final two weeks,” he provides.
So what are Jide’s customers utilizing their productiveness-tweaked Android PCs for? Seems, mockingly sufficient, that gaming is a reasonably well-liked use-case — regardless of Jide’s core pitch being productiveness.
“Flappy Birds, Conflict of Clans… Roughly 35 per cent of individuals have been truly utilizing it for gaming as properly [as productivity use cases],” says Ko. “I can think about why as a result of Android could be very dominant in gaming. There’s a variety of free video games, freemium video games in Android.”
Backside line: an Android pill interface that doesn’t suck makes the entire platform extra interesting. So little marvel Google is wanting with curiosity at what the Jide guys are as much as. In the event that they’ve cracked the Android expertise for greater screens, why, there’s an entire new mass marketplace for Google to broaden into.