Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Apps are changing the way we use computing devices in a number of ways. One significant effect of Apps is a return to the “right tool for the job” mentality in computing. For the past 20 years or so, computing has been based on a single platform for all. There were big versions (servers), little versions (notebooks), and an in-between size (developer workstations). Still,  it basically was all same computer. For a brief while it looked like a specialty application platform might emerge (namely the PDA) but, alas, it stayed a relatively small market and merged into our phones.
The Cius, iPad, smartphones, and all things Android point to a different future for consumer and business computing. As these devices gain traction, the market will split into platforms that match the software they host. Tablets, smartphones, or hybrid devices like the Air will be the software platform of choice for mobile sales and marketing professionals. These users do not need, in fact have never needed, the full power of a PC. Most of their work consists of communications such as voice, email, video conferencing, and document sharing. Word processing needs are minimal. Most sales people do not right books on the road. They do need access to corporate applications such as CRM and ERP but only in a limited fashion. A bigger format device such as a tablet will give them better access to corporate applications and documents. A smartphone/pad device hybrid like Cius will provide what they need to get the job done.
Consumers will also like the tablet/smartphone device – one can argue they already do. Most home applications are pretty simple and, again, it’s about communication. Sharing pictures with Grandma, contacting the kids via SMS, and keeping up with Facebook. These are the typical uses for computer at home. That and entertainment like music, books, and movies. Except for hard core gamers people don’t need a full blown PC at home.
Where will the PC continue to dominate? Business for one. Web-enabled applications, even internally hosted ones, delivered via a PC device will be the most popular. This will do well for people in accounting, human resources, legal, and administration. It is likely to be a thin client but still more than a tablet running Apps. Developers for sure will need powerful workstations as will most technical folks. And we will only get the powerful Macs away from the graphic artists and video editing people by prying it from their cold dead hands.
The PC will not be going away anytime soon. It will have to share it’s space with a bunch of new devices. These devices will not just be smaller versions of the PC, like netbooks. They will be entirely new devices running different operating systems, using Apps instead of full applications and have very different purposes. The Internet and networking in general makes it possible to have a all sorts of devices work together. This, in turn, allows for devices tailors for different needs.
The era of the one-size-fits-all hardware and software is coming to a close.

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