ASUS Prepping Windows/Android Tablet for CES?

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ASUS appears poised to shake up the tablet world next month, though just what exactly it is planning remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of a really weird video.

ASUS appears poised to shake up the tablet world next month, though just what it is planning remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of a really weird video.

If the pundits are correct, the Taiwanese vendor will reveal a dual-boot tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 6. In a wordless, 27-second video titled “Green or Blue? One or Two?” an animated Statue of Liberty flashes a peace sign (or “V for victory,” or maybe it’s just the number 2) then pulls out a tablet that changes from blue to green and back again.

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The imagery suggests ASUS has developed a dual-boot tablet capable of running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8.1 and some flavor of Google Inc.’s Android operating systems. That would add a significant wrinkle to the tablet landscape and might even help with Windows 8.1 uptake by creating an attractive new option in a BYOD world for tablet buyers looking to work and play on the same device.

>> UPDATE: The ASUS press site, where the “Green or Blue” teaser video first appeared, now contains a new teaser video. See our take on what the newest clip might mean.

The concept of dual-boot devices isn’t new. A number of vendors, including ASUS, offer PC, laptop and tablet convertibles that run Windows and Android. The sticking point has been the devices’ inability to offer dual-boot functionality in tablet mode.

About the closest anyone has come to what ASUS appears to be teasing is Samsung Electronics Co., which last summer unveiled a super hi-res tablet convertible in a slider format called the ATIV Q. Critics loved the early versions of the device, which featured full dual-boot capabilities for Windows 8 and Android JellyBean. The Samsung ATIV Q hit a snag this fall, however, when reports of patent problems related to the virtualization layer that supported the dual operating systems surfaced. According to published reports, ATIV Q pre-orders were cancelled in September and the launch delayed indefinitely, with the rumor mill suggesting the ATIV Q has been scuttled altogether.

It will be interesting to find out at CES if and how ASUS managed to get around the IP issues that hounded Samsung. If the company managed to work around the patent obstacles, ASUS will be nicely positioned to steal market share from Samsung, which had already done a lot of the legwork in marketing a dual-boot tablet and had consumers anxious to get their hands on one.

At this point, channel partners need to be prepared for a whole new class of devices that could rock BYOD initiatives of all sizes. A dual-boot machine would eliminate a great many of the compromises users have had to make when choosing a device for personal and professional use. And it would introduce a new set of challenges for mobile device management providers that might now need to contain and control activity on two platforms at the same time.

UPDATE: The ASUS press site, where the “Green or Blue” teaser video first appeared, now contains a new teaser video. See our take on what the newest clip might mean.

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