Tech Transformers

Meet the $30 Android PC made by 3 ex-Googlers


Three ex-Google employees have launched a $30 PC runs on Google's mobile operating system, Android, after raising more than $1.6 million in a crowdfunding campaign to get the project going.

The Remix Mini, which fits into the palm of your hand, is being billed as the "world's first true Android PC" by Jide Technology, the company behind the project that was founded last year.

"The idea is that we want to make sure it's affordable and accessible," David Ko, one of Jide's co-founders and an ex-Googler, told CNBC by phone.

"A lot of people are using the PCs mainly for email, surfing the web, watching videos, all these can be done with mobile tech and you don't really need a big tall PC. A traditional big tall PC can cost you a few hundred dollars. In a mobile lifestyle, people are looking for flexibility."

Android on a PC

The device runs Remix OS, an operating system created by Jide based on Android. The Google operating system is typically seen on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and also on smartwatches. But Jide has optimized this version of Android to carry out normal PC functionality.


Users have the ability to have multiple screens as well as run all the apps that are available through the Google Play app store. Ko said developers do not need to re-write apps for Remix OS. The founder also said that the PC could be used as full productivity device, especially since Microsoft opened its Office suite of apps to Android.

It has the ability to connect to WiFi and Bluetooth and it has a USB slot. There are two versions: one with a 1 gigabyte RAM and 8 gigabytes of storage and one with 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of storage.

While the $30 price tag is cheap, customers will still need to have a TV or monitor to plug the Remix Mini into as well as a keyboard and mouse.

The Remix Mini received over $1.6 million from a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which came from nearly 22,000 backers.

iPad, Microsoft competition

Jide is trying to offer something different in a PC market that is set to decline this year. But it is direct competition with smartphones and tablets. The iPad Pro launched by Apple on Wednesday as well as Microsoft's Surface tablets and other 2-in-1 devices are a bid to get people to use mobile devices for productivity cases. The attached keyboard and touchscreen allows them to be both a notebook and tablet.

Analysts said this could be a challenge for Jide's Remix Mini.

"There is no question that as processers get more powerful and software gets more capable, this kind of solution is more suitable. Where it fits in a world where everyone has a smartphone is unclear though," Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC by phone.

At the same, Microsoft launched a feature called Continuum this year that allows any smartphone running Windows 10 to be turned into a PC when connected to a larger screen, removing the need for a box like Remix Mini.

But Jide said it can also compete in this space after it launched a $399 Android tablet of its own earlier this year with a detachable keyboard, aimed at productivity uses.

Emerging markets

As connectivity continues to increase in the emerging markets, Ko said these countries were of particular interest.

"The key thing is having the device to get online so they see this will be a huge opportunity in emerging markets," Ko told CNBC.

The company expects to hope shipping the Remix Mini from mid-to-late October.