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Meet Console OS, a company bringing Android to the PC

Console OS was the winner of the People's Choice Award at Vator Splash LA!

Entrepreneur interview by Steven Loeb
November 7, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3a18

It feels as though we've been hearing about the impending death of the personal computer for years now, yet they are expected to actually go up next year. So what gives?

Frankly, there are just some things that PCs are better for, such as word processing (it's hard enough to write a text on an iPhone, forget about a full length article like this) and gaming. And people would frankly still rather have one at their disposal. 

The problem is that many developers are buying into the hype and simply skipping PCs altogether so that they can go straight for mobile instead. Companies tout themselves as being mobile-first, but that isn't always a good thing.

So what is comes down is that mobile gets the best apps, but PCs have the bigger screens and higher computing power. Wouldn't it cool if you could just somehow combine them? That is the idea behind Console OS, the winner of the People's Choice Award at this year’s Vator Splash LA at the beginning of October. 

What Console OS does is allow users to run Android on a Windows PC. It is designed to run stand-alone, meaning it doesn't have the performance limitations of solutions that run inside of Windows. It does not simple emulate Android on a PC but runs natively, allowing it toggle with Windows.

Console OS is designed to run stand-alone, meaning it doesn't have the performance limitations of solutions that run inside of Windows. It does, however, install from within Windows, making it easy to set up and use.

"The OS doesn't remove Windows, Christopher Price, Founder and CEO of Mobile Media Ventures, the parent company of Console OS, told me in an interview. "It installs alongside it and only takes four or five minutes, making it the easiest operating system to install."

The idea for Console OS is right there in the name, as the company was originally building a video game console, Price told me, along with a developer kit.

While talking to developers, though, the company came across an interesting problem: that people still liked using a PC but were unhappy with their choice of operating system. And that they were buying tablets because they liked the software. 

"People don’t like Windows 8, that is a documented, proven fact," Price said. "What we’re doing is taking Android, which is the most popular operating system in the world, when you look at phones tablets and wearables Android dominates, and bringing it to the PC so people can get things done."

Simply getting those apps onto the PC is the short-term problem that Console is trying to solve.

"Android is now getting apps that Windows isn’t, and it is built to run better Android apps better than Chrome," Price said. "Native Android is always going to run Android apps the best."

In the longer term, though, Console eventually wants to become the singular OS that cross connects mobile and PC.

"We believe people want one operating system on all their devices. We are in unique position to scale on the PC," he said. "People will be able their pause game on their tablet, then go to their PC or powerful laptop and take the same game and scale it up so it can be better."

Gaming

Given that the company started out as a video game console, and still does manufacturer its own hardware, it is not surprising that it is still putting a particular emphasis on being the  "one true gaming experience" by, essentially, turning any personal computer into a video game console.

"Look at PC horsepower compared to video game consoles. They are just souped-up PCs, the Xbox1 and PlayStation 4. The other aspect really is being able to scale with PC is with gaming more horsepower," said Price.

"With Console we can take an entry level PC, take Android games and they becomes better on even just a budget PC, without the developer or user having to upgrade their graphics card."

It becomes affordable to play really graphics enhanced games even on low cost personal computers, he told me.

"This will help bring Android to new markets by giving everyone the tools that game developers have come around and been able to experience."

How to get Console

While the company could not tell me specifically who they were, Price said that Console already has partnerships with two major manufactures to ship Console on their devices next year.

Before that happens, the company will remain in beta, and will give first access to its Kickstarter backers as a reward; Console OS raised $78,497, out of a pledged of $50,000 goal, from 5,695 backers.

"Kickstarter was all about showing people the market demand. Whenever we have a naysayer, who says that people don’t want this kind of experience, we can show them that thousands of people have already said, 'I want this to happen.' Kickstarter shows others that Android on PC is not just wanted, but wanted really badly."

But Price admits that the company is company is coming along at exactly the right time to deliver a product like this. In fact, part of the reason that Console will be shipping on pre-manufactured devices is because of developer skepticism over demand, even though they liked the idea.

"Developers said, 'We love it but you’re not Samsung, so show me the one million people that will use it.' And PC makers said, 'We want to give you that million people, but we want it in our own boxes first, that are already shipping and selling'," Price said. "App developers are really excited about the opportunity because they feel the same pain that ordinary users do. They want to like PC but they don’t."

The company will offer two versions of Console: a free version and professional version for $19.99 ($10 for Kickstarter backers) Kickstarter backers. The free version will allow users to run two Android apps side by side, whereas the Pro will give access to unlimited side by side apps, as well as a lot of additional media, codex, and a whole library of their documents and files.

Competition from Google

There is an obvious problem with Console: if it is successful, then what is to stop Google from simply doing the same thing? The question came up a couple of times during Splash as well. 

Price, however, does not believe that competition will ever come from Google.

"Google has said that Android is not coming to the PC, and that they will remain separate products. Besides, Google would be competing with itself and it would lose control over its own ecosystem," he told me. "If they do Android for PC they lose their device review process, and right now Google has a lot of power over what becomes an Android device through Google Experience."

People had the same concern with the Kindle Fire, which is now the most popular Android tablet on the market, so "there is room for competition."

And, finally, if Google wanted to maintain control they would have to most likely start developing their own hardware, which has not worked out well for them in the past.

"They work best when they deliver devices like Chromecast or areas that PC makers have not served," said Price. "The PC industry has had 30 years to find out what consumers want, and Google only enters the hardware business for specific need, or where they can innovate."

Why not iOS?

So, will Console ever do the same thing for iOS that it is doing for Android? The answer was a pretty emphatic, "No."

"That’s where open source wins. iOS is a walled garden and we have a visceral objection to that.  We believe in having best experience for the consumer," said Price. "It's a moral dialogue. No one company should have the power to say if the consumer can have something innovative. People aren’t aware that Apple can shut them down without giving a reason. We don’t want governments and big companies to stifle innovation."

I asked him, then, if those restrictions put in place by Apple are actually there to protect the consumer, and if that is not actually a good thing.

"Look at latest versions of the Google Play store. They have comprehensive kill switches and malware protections, and they don’t have problems. How do we deliver benefits to walled gardens without stealing freedoms and stifling innovations? They don’t need to have an evil, unethical walled garden."

The future of the PC

What Console is really betting on is the power of the personal computer, something that many others wrote off long ago.

"Entrepreneurs follow the market. Mobile has had an explosion, but PCs did not have an equal and opposite implosion. People are still being productive on the PC, not using mobile as a replacement. The PC is a blind spot but not in the mind of consumers," said Price. "At the end of the day, people are still using it for what its best at. They are using the tablet more because don’t they like aspects of it."

In fact, he believes that the personal computer "is set to come roaring back with new use cases, apps and games."

"If we can inject it everything that has made mobile awesome then PC sales going to rebound not decline."

You can see Console winning the People's Choice Award at Vator Splash LA below, starting at 4:30:


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Bio: I'm the Founder and CEO of Mobile Media Ventures, Inc - We're building two great products, Console OS™ and iConsole™. Console O...

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