Stacey Higginbotham’s piece on Cloud Computing emphasizes how Google is blurring the boundaries between the Cloud and local computing. The example given is GMail running on iPhone or Android, and how Google is using Webkit browsers to make the app behave as if it were running on the web.
Last night, as I left my office, a young guy from a neighboring business flagged me down and asked if he could use my phone. He had locked himself out of his office, and his keys, phone, and wallet were all inside. I handed him my N95, but he couldn’t reach anyone who’s phone number he could remember. “If only I had access to the internet”, he said. “Oh… try this”, and I handed him my iPhone.
What happened next was pretty interesting. He had never used an iPhone, and I had never used GMail on iPhone. He logged into GMail, selected the Google Docs tab, and browsed his company directory (stored in a spreadsheet), clicking on various phone numbers until he found one that answered.
It was a remarkable demonstration of Stacey’s point – that the Webkit technologies that Google is exploiting in their apps really are delivering you the internet in the palm of your hand, and blurring the difference between cloud and local computing very convincingly.