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David Zax

A View from David Zax

Bringing Android Apps to PCs

BlueStacks inks a major new deal, as mobile and desktop inch closer.

  • January 7, 2013

BlueStacks has forged a major partnership aimed at bringing Android apps to more PCs, AllThingsD reports. Specifically, BlueStacks has launched a major distribution deal with Lenovo, the PC maker; BlueStacks will now ship as a preloaded product on Lenovo’s consumer line, called “Idea.”

What, at root, does all this mean? Android has a bigger beachhead on the desktop. And with the mobile OS war one of the most fiercely fought and watched in all of technology, any further channels for Android products will be a welcome one for those with a stake in the Android platform.

And on a practical level, how might this affect your life? For the average Android user who scoops up an Idea PC, you become that much more likely to carry over features of your mobile existence into your home office. More generally, BlueStacks also could help win converts from other mobile platforms, like iOS, to the Android operating system. I myself am an iOS user (except when I’m not; see “My Dumb Phone Experiment”). But looking over the BlueStacks site, I’m tempted to try out the product, which works on Mac, too. The iOS ecosystem may be famously abundant, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few Android-only apps that I might enjoy experimenting with.

Likewise, if you’re someone who doesn’t own a Droid, but have a non-Mac PC, the BlueStacks App Player could wind up being your gateway drug into the OS. CNET put it more warmly: “BlueStacks presides over the first Windows-Android wedding.”

What BlueStacks does cuts to the heart of a larger trend in technology: the converging of desktop and mobile platforms. As Slate’s Farhad Manjoo and many others have noticed, mobile computing is so embedding itself in our lives that we are beginning to demand its accoutrements in our desktop products. Touchscreen desktop and laptop computers can’t be too far off from becoming mainstream, some argue. It follows, then, that we may want our mobile apps on our less-than-mobile computers someday soon.

Or, perhaps, today. 150 million computers already have BlueStacks’s App Player on them, claims CEO Rosen Sharma. It’s not immediately clear what percentage of that figure includes preloads (many of which may, after all, lay fallow on some devices for lack of interest). But what’s clear is that there’s consumer demand even now, in these days before the Great Mobile-Desktop Merge. When BlueStacks first launched in beta, it racked up a million downloads inside of 10 days, with 12 million apps being run collectively, as TechCrunch pointed out last April.

That article points to a suite of other potential benefits from bringing the mobile lifestyle online: using the PC’s graphics card for better gameplay, sending and receiving SMS messages from a PC, and bringing the use of addictive apps off your cell phone data network, thereby reducing your bill. Can you spot any other benefits? How would you use your mobile apps on your desktop or laptop?

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