More thoughts today about mobile platforms. I found an interesting article yesterday called “Are there too many mobile platforms?” (You just have to love Twitter) It’s an interesting question. I remember asking myself the same questionwhen Samsung’s Bada platform was announced. In fact, I’ve asked myself a similar question on more than one occasion….even as far back as January 2009.
As we know, the world of mobility changes very quickly, so 18+ months in our little universe feels like it’s passed in dog years….that means your favorite canine has aged the equivalent of 10 years since I asked the question last. It seems to me like an appropriate time then to revisit the question.
With the continued onslaught of individually liable devices and ever more powerful platforms (e.g., RIM’s new BlackBerry Torch), our mobile device choices are getting ever more refined…or confusing if you prefer to look at the glass half full. We here, as well as on other web locales, have spent much time debating the whole issue of managing multiple mobile platforms and the challenges that arise from it. I’m starting to wonder if within another 18+ months we just won’t care. (Side note, I can’t help but think of the NSFW YouTube video of iPhone 4 vs. HTC EVO every time I say “I don’t care”)
In any case, I think back to John Gage (the 21st employee at Sun Microsystems) and his now famous phrase “The network is the computer.” Can I paraphrase the line and say “The cloud is the smartphone.”??? Actually, with more and more vendors considering developing other form factors using mobile OSs, maybe I’m better off saying “The cloud is the mobile device.”
With 18+ more months under my belt of studying the (enterprise) mobility market – with all its wonderful nuances and subtleties – I am increasingly of the mindset that the mobile OS will over time stop being the management choke point. This will happen because of (mobile) cloud computing. I don’t need to beat the dead horse that is all the hype around cloud computing because everyone else has been doing a great job of it. However, the cloud and HTML5 bring up a very simple question. Why have native apps? Why not just run everything in your mobile browser? (OK, two questions).
So if more and more apps are going to live in the proverbial cloud, so too will services such as Pandora. All your favorite consumer apps, including streaming Netflix will be fully accessible via your mobile browser. So too will your corporate email (even more so than what we can do now) and so will your other enterprise applications and data repositories. This is all plausible because 4G is becoming increasingly real. Sprint obviously has had WiMAX out for a while now, and Verizon is set to open up its LTE markets soon, nevermind what our friends in Europe are already deploying. Smartphones now have Ghz processors, gigabytes of memory & storage and rich user experiences. Are these now not just MIDs that can also make phone calls?
Now the question of course that doesn’t get answered with this scenario is on-device data encryption….but isn’t that somehow easier than having to deal with policy enforcement and other configurations? Does the question of mobile device management shift more to a security centric story where all the “other” IT management “stuff” goes to the cloud?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. (I fully expect one person – make that two people – in our little community in particular to chime in….)