Jack Wallen considers the next step in the evolution of desktop-to-mobile design with the advent of the new HP Slate 21 tablet and how it could change the market.
It was only a matter of time before the Android platform made its way (in an official capacity) to the desktop. This is happening thanks to HP and their new all-in-one Slate 21 tablet. This tablet is powered by Android 4.2.2, will ship in September, and has a price point of approximately $399 USD. But that's not really the true significance of this device. The real purpose of the Slate 21 is to seamlessly bridge the gap between the smartphone and the desktop. Without so much as a blink of the eye, the user will be able to move between their Android-powered smart phone and their Android-powered desktop.
Progress made simple
The Slate 21 represents the natural evolutionary state of mobility. Until now there has been a distinct chasm between the handheld and the desktop. That ceases to be with the Slate 21. That same progress won't end there.
Obviously both Apple and Microsoft have attempted to bridge the gap. What they wound up with was nothing more than a pseudo-mirrored interface between the desktop and the smartphone. Beyond that (and the ability to back up and sync apps in iTunes), the bridge crumbled into the cold waters below. And, of course, Android has a bit of an advantage as its platform happens to be the single most flexible mobile platform available. So, yes, this is a natural evolutionary step for the Linux-based operating system. Because of that flexibility, the UI will translate perfectly to the desktop and, with a quick sync, what you were doing on your smartphone...you can quickly continue on your desktop (and vice versa). Can you think of a more powerful mobile solution than that?
I am fairly certain this level of mobile power will not end there. With the upcoming Ubuntu Phone, users should see even more interconnectivity between desktop and smartphone. And as those lines begin to blur, you can bet Microsoft and Apple will jump on the band wagon. They'd be fools not to. The whole of the desktop-sphere is changing. It's only a matter of time before the desktop, as we know it, is completely obsolete. Nearly every platform out there has, in some ways, embraced a more mobile-centric nature:
Oddly enough, the only hold-out is Apple - who continues to pimp their OS X in just a slightly tweaked take on the original version (fortunately, for Apple, it happens to work well). Outside of Apple (and the Linux die-hard hold outs) the desktop platform has begun a slow, steady march toward mobile. But what Android and HP will be offering is more like a lightning-fast sprint towards that evolutionary next step.
Android will certainly not be the only player in this market. As soon as Ubuntu lands a carrier for their mobile solution, there will certainly be another entry in the desktop-mobile hybrid in the form of Unity. Only what Ubuntu will be able to offer could possibly trump the hand played by Android. Ubuntu should have the ability to add to this mobile-desktop hybrid, the power of a full-blown desktop experience. Instead of having to work with only mobile-based apps, the user could easily switch and share data between mobile and desktop apps. Now that would be a true next evolutionary step ... one that would power mobile users drooling and begging.
One of the biggest issues facing desktop PC manufacturers is decreasing sales of the tried and true desktop machine. The mobile device has taken over as leader of the pack in sales - and that trend will only continue growing. The best hope the old guard has is to evolve and offer exactly what the users want. That is precisely what HP and Android are going to do. Will it work out? I certainly hope so. But more than that, I hope other open source projects and companies can see the writing on the wall and make their own leap of faith between desktop and mobile device. Open source certainly has the flexibility and the desire; it's just a matter of making it so.
As it stands, the biggest hurdle for Ubuntu and the Ubuntu Phone is finding carriers. The software and hardware? Not a problem. If they cannot find carriers across the globe, they might as well give up. It would be a shame should that happen. I honestly believe the next next phase of evolution for the desktop-mobile world is in the hands of Ubuntu and Ubuntu Unity. In the meantime, let's see how fast and far Android and HP can take this ride.