Monday, August 08, 2011

Computing, a new public utility of the 21st century, Part 2

From the economic, the web evolutionary, the societal, and the technological perspectives, the computing as a utility has already begun.

This is the part 2 of a three-installment mini-series.

Part 1: a broad view of public utilities

Part 2: another thinking of the mobile web and the apps

The rise of the mobile web and the prevalence of the mobile apps combine to be the most significant phenomenon about the Web since the hype of Web 2.0. Based on a recent report from TheNextWeb, 31% of the 5 billion mobile phone users in 2010 accessed the web through their phones. The analysts predicted that in as early as 2014 the total number of global mobile Internet users would be equal to the total number of desktop Internet users. According to the data by Business Insider in March, from June 2009 to March 2001 the number of iPhone apps increased 7 times and reached the total number of 350K. During the same time period the number of apps on Android increased 50 times and reached beyond the total number of 250K.

What does this phenomenon represent? Among the many people have explained it based on four typical perspectives.

Economically the mobile web rises due to the economic need. Fred Wilson declared that "the mobile economics will trend toward Web economics". The mobile web business is what the Web business extends itself to the mobile phones for the convenience of the customers. Although cautiously I disagree to Wilson's corollary that "the business models that don't work well on the web will not work well in mobile in the long run", sincerely I am inclined to his prediction that the size of the mobile web business will be "even bigger and more exciting" than the desktop web business we have experienced.

Evolutionarily the Internet demands new types of links to grow. Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff claimed that the rise of the mobile web was one indicator to "the Web is dead". "The rise of machine-to-machine communications", Anderson wrote, "... is all about control." Web 2.0 brings the Web users closer to each other. The mobile web, by contrast, brings the users' computing closer to the respective service computing providers. Through the mobile apps the direct links between the service providers and the service consumers are established and enhanced. With these new strong connections the Internet was woven to be more diverse in the style of its links.

Societally we are able to get to the more delicate details of our society through the mobile apps. Ed Schipul emphasized that the mobile web equaled to a new way of communication in his public presentation "Mobile Web: How the impact of the iPhone will change Communications". Through the mobile web, the unspeakable living context is added to the social networks. The mobile web is a natural extension of Web 2.0 that is dedicated to the discovery and enhancement of the interpersonal relationships in our society.

Technologically it is a new gadget revolution that makes us live better. The prevalence of the mobile apps has updated the vision from software as a service (SaaS) to mobile as a platform. The quick adoption of iOS and Android indicates us a new era of information technology. They are not another operating system. They represent a technological revolution that liberates us from the sole binding to the computers for knowledge calculation.

Behind the four explanations it is the shift of computing from the local computers to the cloud as an utility.

Because of the computing as an utility, we are able to invent the new, less-powerful gadgets such as the smart phones to handle the more and more sophisticated demands of information calculation. This is the technological impact.

Because the new information-computing gadgets are smaller and less powerful, which means cheaper, more users are actively involved into the tide of information creation. More delicate details of our social life are digitized by the small gadgets. This information is then sent to the more powerful cloud and executed by the utility. This is the societal impact.

Because the demands are generated by the gadgets while the solutions are provided by the utility, the Internet is evolving toward an enhanced web whose new links directly connect the demands and the solutions. This is the web evolutionary impact.

And at last, because of all of the above computing becomes more efficient and more effective by the form of being an utility. In consequence we can use it to produce more output that satisfies our economic needs. This is the economic impact.

The cloud computing at present is still on its very early stage. Let it alone the computing as a utility in its ultimate form. But as we discussed in this post, the process of computing to be a utility is already inevitable by the mean of technology, by the mean of societal influence, by the mean of web evolution, and by the mean of economy. It is only a matter of when in contrast to a matter of whether or not.


In the first installment of the series we studied that in theory computing is eligible to be a utility. In the second installment we discussed how the process of computing being a utility had already begun. In the next installment we will then share how the world and our life would be after the computing as a utility comes true.


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Anonymous said...

When will you post again ? Been looking forward to this !

Anonymous said...

Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2011