Google Inc. and Microsoft Corporation Could be Infuriated by Asus' Radical New PC

Asus has a new PC that blends Microsoft's Windows 8 with Google's Android.

Jun 4, 2014 at 8:10PM

Asus' Transformer Book V, unveiled on Monday, is the Taiwanese tech giant's second attempt at merging Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android operating system. With a smartphone, tablet and keyboard dock, the Transformer Book V could be the first device that finally satisfies all of a user's computing needs.

A series of dockable gadgets
Like a series of Russian dolls, the Transformer Book V is composed of three pieces of dockable hardware. A 5-inch Android smartphone and 12.5-inch Windows 8 tablet form the base. The smartphone can be plugged into the back of tablet, creating a large Android tablet in the process. That tablet, in turn, docks to a keyboard, becoming either a Windows 8- or Android-powered Ultrabook (with the press of a button, users can easily switch between the operating systems to suit their needs).

Details remain scant, but if the price is right, the Transformer Book V could appeal to a group of highly mobile users that want easy access to a variety of different computing devices. Plenty of people own all three devices and use them regularly -- a single device that offers the best of all three could prove immensely attractive.

Google and Microsoft aren't interested in such a machine
But I would be surprised if Asus' PC ever arrives on store shelves. This isn't the first such device Asus has demonstrated -- in January, it showed off the Transformer Book Duet, a similar product that didn't include the smartphone, but did offer access to both Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows. Asus wasn't alone in exploring this concept -- Samsung's Ativ Q hybrid tablet, originally demonstrated in 2013, likewise offered dual operating systems.

But despite OEMs interest in the hybrid market, these devices have never been made available for purchase. In February, Digitimes, citing a Chinese publication, reported that Google had pressured Asus to delay the Transformer Book Duet indefinitely. Six months later, the Transformer Book Duet is nowhere to be found.

Microsoft, too, has been said to be unhappy with the introduction of such hybrid devices; according to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft also encouraged Asus not to release the Transformer Book Duet.

Swapping users
Such devices bring risks to Google and Microsoft's respective platforms -- a hybrid buyer may find that he spends most of his time working in Google's Android, leading him to discover that he no longer needs Microsoft's Windows. The reverse could also prove true.

Microsoft's position on hybrids has been mixed. A report from The Verge indicated that Microsoft was mulling the creation of an Android emulator -- a solution that would allow Android apps to run on Windows 8. Other reports have indicated that Microsoft has been encouraging phone manufacturers to consider releasing dual booting smartphones -- hybrid handsets that would offer both Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone. Side-by-side, owners of these gadgets could find they prefer Microsoft's mobile operating system over Google's, perhaps boosting Windows Phone's single-digit market share in the process.

Some Microsoft investors, such as Longboard Asset Management, have argued that the emergence of these hybrid devices would be bullish for Microsoft, allowing Windows to survive in a world of mobile devices.

Perhaps, but it also highlights just how precarious Microsoft's mobile position is. Its recently released Surface Pro 3 is intended to showcase Windows 8's dual tablet/desktop functionality, doubling as both a tablet and a laptop -- but with many major tablet apps still missing from Microsoft's app store, Windows 8 is far from an ideal mobile operating system. Asus' decision to bring Google's operating system into the mix appears to aimed at rectifying this problem.

The Transformer Book V could shake up the operating system market
Despite having its previous efforts allegedly squashed by Microsoft and Google, Asus is clearly interested in pursuing hybrid devices. It remains to be seen if the Transformer Book V will actually see the light of day, but if it does, and if it succeeds and starts a trend, it could have immense ramifications for the operating system market.

It's not a hybrid, but Apple's next smart device may shock you
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

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Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

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KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

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Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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