Uncommon Wisdom

Oct 12 2011   9:59PM GMT

Clouds and on-ramps: Tying cloud services to the devices, networks

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

HP is now “officially” reviewing its decision to shed its PC unit, and I’ve got to admit that I’m not convinced here. As I’ve blogged before, the PC market is commoditized very thoroughly and there are few indicators that it’s in any way symbiotic with the server and data center software spaces. IBM, the poster-child for success in the tech business, shed their PC business long ago. Why does HP believe it can justify retaining it now? Especially given that they’ve discredited the whole line to a degree with their earlier decision to spin it out?

The only way HP can recover from this is to articulate some brilliant strategy that creates a cloud ecosystem that includes the PC, and I wonder whether it’s capable of something that radical, or even whether such a positioning could be articulated at all from the PC side. Apple, which has its own set of announcements in the cloud space, would have the pizazz to make a cloud appliance move, but that’s because Apple has differentiable brand power behind its appliances. Google could do the same. HP? Come on!

The Apple iOS 5 and iCloud launch today, and while frankly neither are particularly revolutionary, they are still credible steps toward what might turn out to be a revolution. The iCloud mission seems now to be one of creating “unity” among the iOS devices, meaning to create a virtual iOS umbrella that covers everything Apple and essentially makes iOS a virtual operating system (OS) residing in part in every appliance and also in the cloud. What Apple has not yet done, but that I’m confident it will do, is to realize the potential of that model with services beyond collective iOS chatting.

We could call what’s likely to emerge from the Apple/Google/Microsoft dynamic “social communications,” but it’s also arguably the first step toward network-supported behavior modification, something that’s going to unite identity, location-based services (LBS), demography, buying/shopping behavior, advertising and promotion, and a bunch of other things. Why? Because it creates a kind of parallel universe in (dare I use the cliché) cyberspace where our alter egos have electronic tools and systemic knowledge they share with the real us through our appliances. That’s the end-game for everybody.

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