Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cloud - What it might mean for laptops?

One Device Fits All
Few years back if someone would have told me that we will see the end of laptop soon, I would have laughed at it. Laptop can be considered a natural descendent to desktop in terms of innovation. As laptop started providing more storage and RAM, and that too by occupying very little space, Desktop computer became thing of past. From big desktop machines to heavy laptops to light weight machines -they just kept on getting lighter and better. Next level of innovation was flexi screens, probably rollable screens as well. Laptop designers kept on doing away with once considered necessities like CD Drive, huge storage space etc all result of technical innovations like pen drive or portable hard disk. Continuous innovation did managed to impress the old timers like me who has grown up booting desktop through 4" floppy drive. However Gen 'Y' who is growing up on smartphones is giving it a miss. They are so used to working with smartphones that I doubt they will ever need laptop for their work.

I wrote an article few months back that this generational shift and preference for tabets and phablets will break WINTEL 'cartel' (if I may say). Little did I realized that this erosion is faster than I anticipated leading to its death and number of new technological breakthroughs are contributing big time. Key among them is evolution of Cloud. Everyone keeps on talking about it, but once its full potential is realized, I would not hesitate in chucking laptop on the ground. The biggest challenge for any cloud computing solution is reliability, security and speed. Even though I am a fan of dropbox, google drive etc but that is only to ensure availability of documents anytime, anywhere. I still have thick client installed and keep a local copy. The simple reason is ease of use and updating.

If technological breakthroughs are to go by, these challenges with Cloud computing will disappear very soon. Private clouds are the solution to security and cloud providers are investing heavily to pacify nerves here. Fibre optics have led to speeds unimaginable only couple of years back. A normal retail customer can get speed in excess of 15 MBps (in India) and in excess of 100MBps in matured markets which makes it indifferential to access data on cloud. The network connections are getting more and more reliable with 24*7 access QoS. Telcos are investing heavily to augment cloud computing and are coming up with special offerings for this solution which will make market more mature. With cloud access through Internet, it does away with need of VPN too.

If we take away the storage feature, there is very little ground left for smartphones to cover. Available RAM has already crossed 2GB and storage has already reached 64GB. Of course it is in high-end smartphone, but laptop does not come cheap either. In the excitement to make laptops lighter, one of the thing was to remove the burden of excess storage and providing it over cloud. That actually became its bane. If I can get a smartphone which has a port to connect to a screen and a keyboard, I would not require a laptop. And I don't think that day is quite far.

So what does it exactly mean? In simple terms, laptop could be thing of past. Users are comfortable with one device rather than carrying multiple devices performing similar functions. With dwindling user base, there would not be money to invest in innovations and it will be stucked at this level itself. No doubt, laptop manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo has seen the writing on the wall and are trying their hand at smartphones. It will be very sad to see a marvelous product dying but that's the crux of innovations and it will not be wrong to say that laptop has scored self-goal by pushing cloud computing forward!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment