Technology Futures

Commentaries on Directions That Will Impact the Future of Technology

Archive for the tag “Google”

The Personal Cloud: Truth or Dare?

Analysts love to coin new expressions.  The one I’m most proud of is “Business Intelligence,” which I thought was a lot sexier than “data mining” and “data warehousing,” two earlier expressions which meant essentially the same thing.   IBM and a couple of other big companies jumped on the Business Intelligence bandwagon and made it an IT proverb.  I shoulda copyrighted or trademarked it, or started a domain business-intelligence .com.  Mighta made a few bucks.  Water under the dam.

I was impressed the other day when I saw a reference to the “Personal Cloud.”  This expression is claimed by Gartner Group, possibly the world’s largest techy analyst company, and mentioned prominently in a recent press release entitled “Gartner Says the Personal Cloud Will Replace the Personal Computer as the Center of Users’ Digital Lives by 2014.”  (Unfortunately, is already a registered domain name, indicating that Gartner isn’t any smarter than I was.)

In any event, I read the press release.  I thought it made sense -sort of.  Do you agree with the following quote?

“Gartner analysts said the personal cloud will begin a new era that will provide users with a new level of flexibility with the devices they use for daily activities, while leveraging the strengths of each device, ultimately enabling new levels of user satisfaction and productivity. However, it will require enterprises to fundamentally rethink how they deliver applications and services to users.”

The 46-word opening sentence aside (my composition professor would have slammed that writer), I agree that users will  potentially be more productive using the cloud, but I’m having a tough time with the prediction that enterprises will have to rethink how they deliver services to users.  In my experience, enterprises seldom rethink anything.  Rather, they change as little as possible so as not to freak out those users and make more work for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think the cloud is terrific.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the timeshare business of the late 60s – early 90s essentially offered cloud computing, but, in those days, networks were slow and storage capacity limited.  Today’s broadband networks and virtually unlimited random access storage enable a user to do almost anything online instead of the desktop.  The only real barrier to cloud computing is security, an issue that I believe will never get resolved.

If you are skeptical about the cloud, I’d like you to test out an app called Dropbox, a web-based file hosting service.  You can get a free single-user account or an account that can be shared by several users.  The learning curve is practically non-existent.  It’s a great example of cloud storage.

You can also try some cloud apps.  If you use Google’s gmail or calendar, you are already apping in the cloud!  Others you can try for free are Quicken Online, WordPress (blogging service that I am using right now), and Adobe Photoshop Express.  Check out this website, “10 cloud apps that slam-dunk their desktop counterparts.”

Of course, these personal apps have little to do with enterprise applications, but will certainly give you a taste of the possible.


TV: Wherefore Art Thou Apple

Steve Wozniak

Image via Wikipedia

Steve Wozniak was quoted in a January 4 article in USA Today, stating ” I do expect Apple to make an attempt (to get into the TV business) since I expect the living room to remain a center for family entertainment, and that touches on all areas of consumer products that Apple is already making.”  In response to that statement, I say “duh.”

It is certainly true that Apple could equip a TV with an iPAd/iPhone
interface.  The article mentioned above cites a Barclay Capital analyst
as saying that Apple could sell $19B worth of TVs so equipped in 2013.  I think the guy is smoking something illegal, but I was wrong once before.

The fly in the ointment as it were is, of course, content.  Why should Apple be able to cut better deals for content than any other company?  Cable and satellite companies are making more money than ever.  What could induce them to share the goodies with Apple or anyone else for that matter.  Of course, they could theoretically cut deals with the content providers like the networks and independent production companies, but why would those companies give Apple an edge over other big players like Google TV/Sony, or even Microsoft.

For Apple to compete profitably in the TV business, it will have to offer something truly unique.  TV hardware, including network interfaces is essentially a commodity.  Embedded network interface hardware costs around a dime these days.  Who wants to play in that game outside of a few crazy Korean and Japanese companies who will probably get knocked off by Chinese competition?

I don’t see much happening to change the TV landscape in any fundamental way UNLESS there is consolidation with the content providers.  Given that Google, Apple, Microsoft et al are gagging on cash these days, perhaps that is not beyond the realm of possibility.  As you probably know, Sony owns a bunch of Studios like Columbia and Tri-Star.  Suppose you could watch the product of those studios only on Sony TVs or at least less expensively than on competing products.  I think that is called “thinking-out-of-the-box.”  Apple is pretty good at that.


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