From PC to multi-equipement

 In Articles

Beyond the impact on the front end and the back end, this organisation deeply impacts the struggle for power between IT players and also with the players on connected markets: Convergence between IT , content providers and network operators will become all the stiffer than cloud computing opens new perspectives for all players and most of all threatens the previous balance of power with opportunities to offer innovative solutions.

Nowadays the selection of your Operating System (OS) is essential when buying a laptop. You will not be able to access the same applications if you select Windows, MacOS or Linux. Windows being overwhelmingly dominant, Microsoft benefits form a huge base to place its applications such as Microsoft Office or Internet Explorer. With the development of internet, some players have created a whole new ecosystem that could stand the comparison with Microsoft: Google now offers services of webmail, agenda and office tools. All of them are accessible via a browser regardless of the OS. This also includes devices under Android or any other system offering to surf the web. Your Smartphone, your tablet, your TV or even a simple netbook with only a browser could be a relevant device. The new standards of the web (HTML 5…) are likely to foster this standardisation by opening new opportunities in terms of capacity, off line content, etc. The traditional Windows PC is beyond us. Content and applications will be on the cloud, accessible anywhere, anytime, from (almost) anything.

The cloud will enable mobile devices to perform tasks there were unable to perform before. Easy to use display will be activated from distance to offer capacities that will not be limited by the screen nor by the storage or computing capacity of the displaying device as most of it would lies in the cloud.
Synchronisation and interoperability will be improved fostering multi-equipment. A desktop at work, a tablet on journey, a television at home and a smartphone in the street: the same application with the same data and settings will be now available. Only the offline content will remain a local issue.

The equipment manufacturers will have to keep up with the offer and adopt standard norms exactly as the PC manufacturers experienced it in the 80’s. Sheer Power will no longer be a key differentiator. Other criteria such as autonomy, weight or network sensitivity will arise. Smartphones screens will grow broader to ease the browsing and the use of applications. One key differentiator element could be the ability to adapt the application interface to the screen format. Start-ups already offer such services.
The Cloud architecture will reshape the IT and Software industry: DVD and other CD-ROM will disappear, replaced by downloads, streaming and online storage. The correlation between hardware capacity and Software requirement will be cut, unleashing the most requiring software to the largest public (especially video Game).

Today we have disparate devices that more or less communicate with each other, with more or less standardized protocols. If you ever had to struggle against incompatible drivers, abstruse identification keys or incompatibility of brands or connectors, you can doubt the system reality. Today, if you are looking for a satisfying online and intercommunicating experience, you will have to choose only one brand. Apple for instance succeeds in creating a true homezone with its devices, but at what price! And above all, with a system that remains quite closed, in particular to guarantee the customer experience.

Historically, Apple has based its vertical offer on an Internet connection. The iPhone showed that the strategy was right and that the necessity to own a computer connected to high speed Internet was not a hindrance.
When the iPhone was launched, iTunes store was not available on it. Today, an iPhone still will not download podcasts itself during the night via the house Wi-Fi. The iPad tablet is still very dependent on a PC, in particular for its connections, and even the MacBookAir is not totally autonomous…

Today, most of the contents is stored locally, duplicated and synchronized with more or less easiness and reliability between computers, multimedia players and smart-phones. However, this logic is going to change. Today web is a network: you download, you upload, you share information but the rest remain on your PC. Tomorrow the centre of gravity will shift towards network: all your data will be online and you will have a “storage tool” downloaded and synchronized on your mobile (or fixed) device. Streaming music sites, like Deezer, Spotify or Pandora, are all examples of this new dematerialization, providing unlimited access to online content, the possibility to customize your own content and off-line features. The latest will remain essential to mobility, but in a new logic: instead of keeping all data locally and synchronizing, the reference will be online and you will just have basic needs locally. Companies had already endorsed such logic for a long time with storage on the network and a “storage tool” on the laptop, plus a VPN remote access. However, those practices are limited to big companies and rely on not flexible services. Revolution will come with mass market services, gradually emerging.

Today, most of the contents is stored locally, duplicated and synchronized with more or less easiness and reliability between computers, multimedia players and smart-phones. However, this logic is going to change. Today web is a network: you download, you upload, you share information but the rest remain on your PC. Tomorrow the centre of gravity will shift towards network: all your data will be online and you will have a “storage tool” downloaded and synchronized on your mobile (or fixed) device. Streaming music sites, like Deezer, Spotify or Pandora, are all examples of this new dematerialization, providing unlimited access to online content, the possibility to customize your own content and off-line features. The latest will remain essential to mobility, but in a new logic: instead of keeping all data locally and synchronizing, the reference will be online and you will just have basic needs locally. Companies had already endorsed such logic for a long time with storage on the network and a “storage tool” on the laptop, plus a VPN remote access. However, those practices are limited to big companies and rely on not flexible services. Revolution will come with mass market services, gradually emerging.

Services are accessible via all operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux…), through web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome…) and a module to download and offer elaborated off-line services. Even less easy-to-use and often more expensive, Microsoft provides similar suite of services to companies, likely to become a really convincing mass-market offer.
Apple provides a unique account for people to reach data from several devices: prepaid video will be available on an iPhone or a PC, as long as they have Internet access. The complementary offer, MobileMe, with subscription fee, includes delocalization of agenda, address books, email accounts and multimedia documents.

One of the main challenges facing cloud computing is dealing with and aggregating data that will be split into several web platforms (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Facebook…), each protected with its own login and password. Interconnection makes identification and data security a priority. Network and connection hazards demand refined management of contents between network and devices (constant peering, constant sharing). It is one of the key challenges for networks operators. If they seem to have lost the web content and web services battle, they still can capitalize on their customer intimacy to master those issues and provide attractive and easy-to-use service.