Just How Mobile Can Cloud Computing Become?

If there is one truism about technology it is that you can never really predict what it is going to throw at you. With cloud computing, for example, two years ago you would be safe to assume that it would be confined to desktop and laptop computers.

Perhaps the most advanced claim was that with the cloud you could work from the local coffee shop linked via a Wi Fi connection or a mobile modem stuck into one of the USB ports. Now it is highly likely that you can check your email and read reports from your smartphone while enjoying a parachute jump or checking in to your work while halfway up a glacier!

Computing as a whole is becoming increasingly mobile. From reasonably portable laptops we cut back the crap to give us a range of highly portable netbooks that didn’t require you undertake a course of steroids to lug them about.

Although I don’t have a great deal of time for Steve Jobs I admire the way he can identify trends and develop them which has given us the iPhone and iPad. From people I know who use them iPhones are great mini computers but pretty appalling if you want to actually talk to someone. Similarly, the iPad while pointing the way to the future of tablet style computers hasn’t exactly made itself the only option worth considering.

Indeed, only this morning while watching the TV news over a bowl of breakfast cereal, the BBC’s technology editor said that a survey of iPad owners showed that few of them took the device out of the house. You can read his blog here but he points out that larger Android based devices cannot use the plethora of apps developed for smartphones because they won’t run on screens larger than seven inches. He also predicts that tablet PCs will be largely used as multimedia devices rather than desktop replacements or alternatives.

Six months ago I may well have agreed. In fact I wrote a story saying that the iPad would never replace laptops and netbooks because they lacked a physical keyboard which people preferred for writing emails, reports, etc. Not for the first time I may have to eat humble pie.

Trailblazing Social Media

Advances in things like voice recognition and Wi Fi connections to printers etc will change the way we input and output data. Some futurologists are predicting that we will connect to the Internet – or whatever succeeds it – through chip implants in our brains. I cannot see my spelling proving after a few beers, but I guess anything is possible.

Social media has already blazed a trail across the mobile route map. I have been researching a new phone and the HTC Android powered favourite is already hard wired into the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Four Square etc. Now we can be social – or arguably anti-social – almost anywhere at any time.

A friend of mine recently blogged that he and his customers had noted a swing from conventional, paper-based promotion to web-based advertising. My comment was that if people had not yet got their online campaigns sorted they should just jump to mobile advertising.

After all, want is the point is targeting people when they are based on their PCs at home when you can get at them via their mobile phones and drag ‘em off the high street into your retail emporium and get them to part with their money there and then.

Faster, more reliable connections are part of the key as are apps that are small enough to sit on mobile devices as opposed to some of the bloatware junk that developers force us to use on desktops.

To paraphrase a campaign slogan by mobile phone company Orange – The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Mobile.

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Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.