Thinking Tech

Is a client based future possible?

Is a client based future possible?

Posting in Government

What you want is a home network. You want all your data available wherever it is needed -- at your thermostat, on the bedroom TV, as a report sent to your doctor. But how will you control it? Maybe through your iPhone or its Googleicious competitor.

Last week I discussed the future of clouds and what clouds their forecast. This weekend the skies over my head opened up.

Maybe this Sunday we should talk about an alternate future. A client-driven future.

What drove my writing last week was Cory Doctorow's view that a cloud-based future was frightening and dangerous.

When your data is in a cloud anyone -- the government, employers, thieves, frenemies -- might get your data, and use it against you.

The iPhone offers one glimpse of how a client-based future might start. The iPhone is everywhere, and it has 8 Gigabytes of storage, plus broadband for moving that data around fast.

Handheld clients like the iPhone are the next big thing. To succeed in the market companies like Google will have to go the iPhone one better. So far their offerings have just driven more customers to the iPhone -- why buy a copy when you can get the original?

In this new client-driven world your home PC can be a server. At CompuTex I saw storage systems with several terabytes of capacity. My son's game machine has nearly a terabyte itself -- that's nearly one thousand gigabytes.

Data storage capacity is not an issue. Access to that data is not an issue, thanks to the iPhone. You are, in fact, spoiled for choice.

Question. Where do you want all this data to live? If you're putting a DVD collection online, you may want it near your TV. If you're looking for home security or medical applications maybe it should live near your wireless router.

What you want, in the end, is a home network. You want all that data, and more, available wherever it is wanted -- at your thermostat, on the bedroom TV, as a report sent to your doctor.

But how will yo control it?

Making this happen has been the holy grail of PC giants like Microsoft and Apple for years. There are even open source alternatives like Open Remote coming onstream.

What's needed is a "killer app" that will turn that capability into market demand that shoots through the "s" curve of the market, that takes us in short from something a few geeks play with to something everyone has to have. What Apple did with the iPhone.

And maybe Apple is the answer here. If Apple would just got its "I gotta control everything" head out from its behind, and realize that an open app store is in its best interest (or if Google built one worth using) we could see that handheld client becoming the control point for all the other clients around you.

Well, that's coming. What marketers do is take capability and turn it into products and services that are easy to install, fun to use and cheap as chips.

It's no further away from us than that cloud future I discussed last week.

Which will you choose?

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure