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The cloud in your hand

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.

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Giles April 14, 2009, 2:51 am

    Great story, thanks. It's amazing how quickly the iPhone has assimilated into our lives. Whilst we've had internet-enabled handhelds in our pockets for a few years now, it was only the introduction of the iPhone, with its refreshing take on the user interface, which has woken many of us to the possibilities.

  • Nick Desbarats April 14, 2009, 5:01 am

    Indeed. I've been saying since the day I got mine that the impact that the iPhone has had is almost entirely due to the fact that it makes mobile Internet browsing non-painful.

  • PaulSweeney April 20, 2009, 1:00 pm

    Great, great example.

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