Simply put, mobile convergence is the idea of combining all of our various devices into a single device (or a few) that runs both the mobile OS and desktop operating systems. Microsoft, Apple and Google all have been working towards this concept, and other players like Ubuntu have claimed their own devices with OS are coming soon.
Major OS developers, device manufacturers and consumers, who want to do everything on their mobile devices they can do on their desktops, love the idea of convergence. OS developers can focus on a single OS, instead of having one for desktops and one for mobile devices (and for Microsoft, a third for legacy applications). With the increased power and performance of tablet and phone devices, as well as the upcoming increased speeds of wireless networks (such as 5G, which will be up to 200 times faster than 4G), it’s easy to envision the day when you’ll have a phone or tablet from anywhere that will outperform your laptop connected to your work network.
Here’s a breakdown of how the major players are stacking up in the fight for convergence:
At first glance, Microsoft would seem to hold the upper hand for convergence, but their Surface tablets haven’t fared well against the iPad and Android tablets that dominate the market. The Surface tablets seemed to have two different operating systems – the Windows 8 Tile interface and the Windows desktop view – running at the same time on the device, but without the full versions of Office and Outlook that would allow someone to use the device as a desktop replacement.
Though Microsoft has released tablet versions of Office and Outlook, the company still has plans to release Windows Blue, a mobile and desktop OS combined into one. If Microsoft can overcome the poor launch of their surface tablets and remarket Blue as the converged OS (and only one you need), they would indeed emerge as a power player in the market. They still lack the apps that everyone loves from iTunes and Google Play stores but might be able to win over some of the development community with a strong market rebound.
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Apple has been working towards converging OS X and iOS in what some are terming OS Xi. With the latest versions of OS X Mavericks and iOS 7, we can see progress towards a combined OS. They still lack a touch screen-enabled laptop and desktop, and they need to increase their Bluetooth integration, which they have plans to do, according to Macworld.com. Plus, the HDMI that’s standard on many iOS devices enables monitor connection, so you can dock your workspace by attaching your phone or tablet to a keyboard, mouse and monitor.
Google is rumored to be doing the same thing with Chrome OS and Android with their upcoming Chromebooks, which will most likely add support for Android apps. Some rumors are even based on the Chrome Android statue addition on the Google campus. Google’s wearable Google Glass devices run on a modified version of the Android OS and can be run on Android devices already, said a Liliputing.com article on running Google Glass apps on a Nexus 7 tablet. This step doesn’t quite make it a converged OS, but wouldn’t be a big stretch for Google to incorporate it into one.
And then there’s Ubuntu, who isn’t yet a player in the mobile device market but has plans to release phones and tablets later this year. Ubantu previewed their devices at MWC this year and won Best of Show for their efforts. The devices were running a modified UI for mobile on what appeared to be a full-blown desktop OS underneath.
Ubuntu’s recent indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign for their Ubuntu Edge mobile device set records as the biggest crowdfunding campaign ever, raising over $12.5 million to build a mobile phone device with 4GB RAM, 128GB RAM, a dual core processor and full Ubuntu desktop OS capability. With beta versions of the device, Ubuntu tested their use as a desktop replacement and “docked” device within their offices. The campaign didn’t reach its target but proved a strong demand, so expect to see similar Ubuntu devices roll them out later this year.
RunMobile is geared up and ready for these trends and has the ability to develop or extend applications across all of these various platforms and devices.