Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is the Future the Cloud and Mobile ?

Like Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet (who apparently has jumped ship ?!), I've spent most of my life using a PC.

Put a Mac in front of me and my reaction is ... "I don't have time for this".

I have (recently) been playing with Ubuntu's build of  Linux.  There's a reason for that.  The upcoming Google Chrome OS expected later this year (and getting current again with 'the engine').

Back to Apple.  The company that etched out a small market share early on but producing computers that did graphics better and created a fan crowd of graphic artists and publishers, never managed to convert me.

Factually, I was a little stunned when attending an SEO show a few years ago and noted that many of the 'players' were using MacBooks. Status symbol?  I honestly had no idea.  Apple knows how to make their stuff (and marketing) sexy.

Of course, Apple is a very different company now.

The return of Steve Jobs and his visionary out-of-the-box thinking brought us the hugely-popular iPod and the iPhone.

While the iPhone is 'under attack' by a barrage of  releases of Android-powered phones (and Google), it's still a valid argument, that, not only did Apple change the mobile landscape but, despite the recent horrid antenna PR, the iPhone 4 is probably the best and most versatile cell phone on the market ......hindered only by it's closed app ecosystem and, of course, it's exclusive with US carrier AT&T.

Those two factors alone could prove to be a win for Android and iPhone-competing phones like Verizon's Droid X (which sold out the first day).

Today, the other huge tech player, Microsoft, reported earnings.  The headlines are blaring.

What did people expect?

Windows 7 (and Office 2010) weren't 'improved' products.  They were both 'surprises' and were, in fact, both somewhat revolutionary.  Perhaps most notably, looking back at at the 'old days', are the dramatically improved graphics in Windows 7 ... and the fact that 'it just works'.

Just about everyone expected 'tech' to lead any economic recovery.  Microsoft not only firmed up it's core business with these products (and free add-ons such as Windows Live Essentials and the free Security Essentials anti-virus software) but they stopped giving away samples of their 'cloud product' Azure ... and started charging users.

Despite recent giveaways to employees and public demos of the new Windows Phone, the jury is still out on Redmond's new entry into mobile.

This Microsoft earnings report is just the beginning.  Most major companies are still holding off on major upgrade expenditures.

Microsoft and Google (as well as others like Rackspace and IBM) are players in the cloud computing arena.  Cloud computing is here. It's still anyone's guess what percentage of corporate users will embrace the off-site cluster computing platform and by how much but economics pretty much dictate that everyone will ... to some extent.

A few week ago, Steve Rubel penned this piece for AdAge.  To some extent, he's probably right and the 'next' generation will be using smartphones in a very big way (and visiting the optometrist earlier in life?) ... but anyone counting out the PC platform, new and exciting laptops (yes, with keyboards) and desktops are wrong. Very wrong.

They'll be around for a long, long time and if Microsoft continues to innovate, there's a very good chance that they'll keep a very large portion of that market share.

It's all about productivity and price.

The migration has begun ... and it's going to be a fascinating 5 years (or less! ....).