Short Life for Asus Transformer Speaks to Product Marketing Mistakes

On February 25, 2014, AMD published some news about its APUs: AMD and BlueStacks to Bring New Dual-OS Android Solution to Retail. BlueStacks, the manufacturer of the BlueStacks App Player product, had developed hooks for PCs and tablets powered by AMD APUs. These hooks were designed to provide retail PC consumers with a seamless experience, side by side, of Microsoft® Windows and Android computing environments.

Before analysts following either AMD or BlueStacks starting applauding, perhaps it’s worth the time to consider a recent attempt by a PC hardware OEM — ASUS — to bring to the consumer IT market the Transformer All in One P1801 and P1802 products, which provide the same capabilities. Note: the ASUS device neither uses an AMD APU, nor does it use the BlueStack App Player. But the functionality is certainly achievable with a combination of the AMD APUs and the BlueStack App Player.

In an article titled Microsoft and Google aren’t happy with mutant Android-Windows Hybrids, which was released only 17 days after this announcement, Ian Paul wrote for the PC World website: “Microsoft may be comfortable with Windows Phone and Android splitting time on a single phone, but when it comes to PCs, fuhgeddaboutit.” (quoted from Ian Paul’s article. I’ve provided a link to his entire article earlier in this paragraph).

Why would Microsoft, or, as Paul recounts, Google, care about a PC device, like Asus’, running dual OSs? After all, PC power users often run Linux virtual machines on Windows PCs? Rarely, if ever, have there been any notable objections from Microsoft or any of the Linux distributions about users compromising functionality by opting for dual mode hardware operation.

The difference here is the how the firmware for the Transformer AIO P1801 and P1802 changes the consumer experience. There is no software to run to change OSs on the ASUS device. Paul explains: “These devices run Windows when they’re in PC mode. Slide out the AIO’s screen or flip the laptop into a tablet, however, and boom! You’ve got an Android slate. The concept is theoretically appealing to users since you get the best of both worlds in one device, but Microsoft and Google apparently weren’t pleased.” (ibid). The tablet included in the product is powered with an NVIDIA Tegra® 3 CPU, while the PC is powered with an Intel® i5 CPU.

What’s important here is what looks to be a big miss by product marketing. Clearly ASUS’s product marketing team didn’t consider all of the implications of the Transformer P1801 and P1802 devices. Product marketing should have anticipated the likely reaction of Microsoft or Google to the performance of the proposed product. It’s disappointing, to me, to see how a mature PC OEM like ASUS could miss this very important point.

The lesson for early stage ISVs is to make sure product development procedures include a summary of how a proposed product will impact other software products in use in a consumer’s likely computing environment. Part of the summary should be devoted to a presentation of the “burning needs” these other software products are designed to meet.

Using the above mentioned mistake, as an example, what I think was missing from the ASUS product marketing plan was any reasonable assumption of why Microsoft would certainly want Windows 8.1 to run on the tablet feature of the dual OS hybrid PC computing device, and not just on the PC.

It will be interesting to see how hardware OEMs respond to the availability of the BlueStacks App Player and AMD APUs combination.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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