Not long ago, MG Siegler wrote a post about Microsoft Office’s continued existence through Excel, and a few, including myself, also commented that Excel is one of the main reasons for our continued use of the PC. This demonstrates the value of the operating system and its apps in a consumer’s choice of device and the increasing need for a device that runs multiple operating systems. Dual-OS products allow for the convergence of entertainment or lifestyle products and business products.
Three days ago, Huawei confirmed that it will release a dual-OS smartphone this year, running Android and Windows Phone operating systems. Dual-OS smartphones are the first step towards bringing work and leisure together on a single device; however, I don’t believe there is significant value-add of being able to edit Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoints on a phone. The size limitations of a phone restrict its usage to phone calls, messaging, photography, quick searches and mobile apps. And I don’t believe Phablets solve or avoid this limitation. This has already been observed in e-commerce, where tablets are becoming a primary focus as conversion rates on tablets are now higher than smartphones, and I am convinced that this is largely driven by the fact that tablet screens are larger, supporting a more pleasant browsing and purchasing experience. I believe the most valuable dual-OS product will be the dual-OS tablet, in which consumers can truly rid their need for multiple devices to support different behaviors.
However, it’s not going to be easy for the dual-OS tablet to enter the market as Microsoft and Google have already postponed the release of the Asus’ Transformer Book Duet TD300, a dual-OS tablet running Android and Windows software. Asus’s dual-OS tablet would allow users to be able to switch between the Android and Windows operating system (“Instant Switch” technology).
There have been a number of reasons circulating as to why Microsoft and Google are so adamant to prevent the production of “dual-boot” machines. One is that Google wants all-Android devices and so does Microsoft with all-Windows. Another is that they would allow each other access to the other’s market through the hybrid products (Windows gaining access to mobile; Google gaining access to business tools). Basically, both are threatened by the possibility of its customers developing loyalty to the other’s operating system, resulting in market share loss.
I believe Microsoft is also afraid it will never be able to gain footing in hardware if it allows other hardware players to offer both Windows and Android on their devices, while Microsoft is only able to offer Windows on its devices; Microsoft would no longer be able to leverage Windows to incentivize consumers to purchase its devices. It could never become an Apple. It would risk becoming another Blackberry…