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Summary:

Are we entering the golden era of handheld computing, with tablets connected to the Internet that make web services do the heavy lifting and let us leave our energy-guzzling, back-breaking notebooks at home? Given some of the products being launched — or readied for launch — […]

n810.gifAre we entering the golden era of handheld computing, with tablets connected to the Internet that make web services do the heavy lifting and let us leave our energy-guzzling, back-breaking notebooks at home?

Given some of the products being launched — or readied for launch — recently, we seem to be heading in that direction, moving one step further into the connected age. Nicholas Carr is also thinking along those lines, and sums it up best:

At this very moment, in a building somewhere in Silicon Valley, I guarantee you that a team of engineers from Google and Apple are designing a set of devices that, hooked up as terminals to Google’s “supercomputer,” will define how we use computers in the future.

Could the iPod Touch be that terminal? It’s only $299, and will only get cheaper as volumes ramp up or Apple (AAPL) introduces higher-end models.

Steve Jobs today said the company plans to release a software development kit next February that will allow third-party application developers to write apps for both the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The real reason: Apple, for all of its skills, needs the imagination of outside developers to turn the phone and music player into a viable platform.

While Apple puts together the front end of the integrated network-computing system, Google provides “the perfect back end”– the supercomputer that provides the bulk of the data-processing might and storage capacity for the devices.

For Google, the first step is the launch of the mobile version of Google Docs. Mobile GMail and GTalk are already quite popular, and one can expect the company to introduce more mobile-aware web services.

Apple isn’t the only friend Google has — the company is trying to build its own OS that will power devices made by companies such as HTC of Taiwan.
Some Asian manufacturers, meanwhile, are trying to build a platform that can pull web services off the network for basic [and potentially advanced] tasks by combining their own hardware, embedded Linux and a browser.

What will these services look like? IT/Redux has some ideas. Their vision consists of embedding Office 2.0 services right into a tablet format device. From that perspective, device that is most ready to challenge both Google and Apple is Nokia’s (NOK) N810 Internet Tablet, which was unveiled earlier today.

The new and improved device, which sports a QWERTY keyboard, is able to play host to a variety of web services, and it could become particularly useful as a computing adjunct if Nokia can make these services, and data, available in offline mode.

Nokia’s strategic mistake with the recently introduced N810 is lack of cellular/3G support — a key feature that would make this device a good option for non-Apple mobile carriers. At $479 per device, Nokia needs to get carriers to subsidize this device, playing perhaps on their fears of Apple and Google.

At the end of his post, Carr writes: “So how how long before the first Google-Apple Cloud Computer appears? I would say it’s months, not years.”

How does February 2008 sound?

  1. Agreed. Cloud computing and storage is the future. It makes sense for the consumer to not have to maintain their systems: http://fishtrain.com/2007/09/10/brittle-machines/

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  2. It is the future, but we’re not ready to abandon all for the cloud yet. We’re also not ready to hand it over to a Google+Apple walled garden:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2007/10/17/google-and-apple-to-rule-the-universe-interesting-theory-from-nick-carr/

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  3. Of course, you can be exited about Apple giving us an API. But why wait until February? There are Linux phones available now. Open. No DRM, no software updates killing your own devices. They can do what you want them to do, not what Steve decided you will pay for they to do.

    And did you miss the Nokia N810 comes with Mozilla Firefox browser? Did you miss Skype?

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  4. Unfortunately, this cloud computing concept is ripe for the sort of vendor lock-in which we haven’t seen since the days of the mainframe. Is that progress?

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  5. I have been running opera mini in a java sandbox on a nearly two year old nokia model, small screen rendering technology is awesome
    fully 90% of pc browser functionality, dont want flash anyway
    i read my google docs on my phone anywhere
    online office in my pocket anywhere

    i normally just access stuff on google or wikipedia anytime someone argues with me ;)
    RSS feeds, bookmarks, mobile gmail, facebook posts and photos n status updates;
    who is twitter again?

    i am even posting this from my mobile in bed

    i think the whole mobile space is too protected (regulated) in the US because the big boys want to milk this for all it’s worth whereas there are many good solutions out there who dont do the marketing quite right to get the eyeballs and attention that has become the new gold standard

    and of course vested interests never take well to incumbents, especially free, open and non-restrictive alternatives…


    “i’m gonna like need you to move your desk riiight to the back, mmmkay…?”

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  6. Sachin Balagopalan Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Definitely an interesting concept…

    http://tinyurl.com/2vof36

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  7. What if:
    Google and Apple team up to buy a piece of(partner with)the WiMAX network from Sprint, freeing them up to return their focus to their base line business-selling Narrowband (512K to 1Mbps) Cell data/voice?
    Sprint could be contracted to deploy, operate and maintain the WiMAX network, which will eventually (2010) be upgraded to 700Mhz. (of which Google and Apple will win a major piece).
    What Google and Apple both have in common is their lack of a Last Mile, which effectively limits their ability long term to compete with the incumbents (RBOC and CellCo). By teaming up Apple (Hardware & Software) and Google the Next Internet Portal, Content (Hosted Desktop)and Mobile Ad force will dominate the Broadband Wireless distribution networks.
    Both companies also have formidable competitors in Microsoft, AT&T, Nokia and Verizon Wireless which they will need to address if they are to remain leaders in their space.

    Jim

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  8. “Cloud computing” = Microsoft’s worst nightmare. No local install. Open Source “Web OS”. Favors FireFox as default browser.

    Worst of all? That new Nokia 810 and purported HTC hardware for the Google phone are all “business-like” – the suits will use them.

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  9. [...] Surprisingly interesting short piece at GigaOm about a possible “golden era of handheld computing”: “So how how long before the first Google-Apple Cloud Computer appears? I would say it’s months, not years.” [...]

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