Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Concept: Mobile Thin Clients - But It's Already Happening

The clouds are forming and I'm talking about the good kind (here in CA, even dark clouds are welcome as Sacromento contemplates water rationing). Cloud computing.

Let's not fool ourselves. That is the future but it's not exclusive. Remember when Larry and Oracle was trying to unseat Microsoft in the Internet booms of late 90s and all he could talk about was thin-clients. Well, I think we're largely here right now but except there's a bit of more than even Larry expected.

We're dealing with cloud and mobile computing. In fact, what escapes most people is that they're already doing it and don't realize it. I'm sure we'll soon be graced with a jazzy name for just such a thing.

Here are some things that are happening that will make cloud/mobile computing even more powerful and ubiquitous than it is today:
  • green tech - energy, better design, costs
  • processor, display, and battery advancements - focus on efficiency, speed, multi-core, and touch/gesture.
  • LTE, WiMax, and beyond.
  • social change - touch is in. Perhaps gestures as well. But that's use the UI. I'm talking about a society that is no longer bound to the desk, office, or home. Plus, with advanced battery technologies, we can pretty much forget about the outlets as well.
  • mobile devices - as advanced as the iPhone is today, what we'll see in the coming years will blow these antiquated devices away.
One of the fastest growing segment of the ad industry is the mobile ad market. And what is generating this growth? Just your average mobile warrior surfing the Web, conducting business, and moving away from traditional means of computing. It's in no small part that these gains made by the smartphone submarket. iPhone to be sure. And in the last six months, we've also seen much growth from Blackberry, WM, and Nokia users embracing this new paradigm in mobile computing. And without the cloud infrastructure and new thought dynamics to support it, no matter how advance the devices or smartphones are, people won't use it.

But one part of the cloud/mobile computing that no one seems to be thinking much about are those mobile devices that have no phone functions. One such device is the iPod Touch. Feel free to lump netbooks into this for now. More mobile tablets will soon join the iPod Touch with similar strengths and shortcomings that will likely be addressed by clouding computing. Storage space comes to mind but with Wi-Fi access points popping up everywhere, people can leave files in the cloud to access from anywhere, leaving the limited precious gigabytes for the OS and apps.

Now, Wi-Fi may be all most of these non-phone devices have access to in order to be connected to the cloud but we will likely see more devices equiped with 3G or WiMax chips to access the Internet anywhere the mobile users want. Onxo has noted and posted about deals wireless providers and netbook makers put together for users to buy subsidized netbooks with 3G subscription. We'll probably see more of this. How much will largely depend on the economy.

To be sure, this is where the direction cloud/mobile computing is headed. The road ahead is clear and there are a few fleeting obstructions that may affect the rate of adopting for this new computing life in the short term. Perhaps when we get there, people will coin this Web 3.0.

Note: mobile cloud computing. MCC. Has a nice ring to it. What do you think?

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