Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why apps will continue to make sense

Michael Elgan writes in Datamation:

To Google, ChromeOS devices, such as the new Chromebook Pixel, are Googly Smart Internet devices that support and enable the Google vision for the world. Yes, you can use them for Dumb Internet and Offline stuff, but they're optimized for being online and using Google's algorithm-based services.

Android, on the other hand, is a hybrid device of all three. Yes, it "delivers" Google's Smart Internet products, other app makers' Smart and Dumb Internet products, and also runs apps and data stored exclusively on the device itself, which are designed to function the same way whether there's an Internet connection present or not.

Like all companies, Google has limited resources -- especially limited engineering talent. The company wants to put "more wood behind fewer arrows," as Google famously once said in a blog post.

Instead of wasting time on the Dumb Internet and the Non-Internet, Google intends to put as much "wood" as possible behind the Smart Internet.

The Smart Internet is where Google can dominate everybody and really make a difference.

I don't have any argument with a contention that this is the world as Google would like it to be.

Mobile android samsungI do expect the needle to shift more towards HTML5 and network intelligence as connectivity (incrementally) improves. And the trend towards applications that depend on big data and big compute means that certain applications are inextricably children of the network and can't exist in a meaningful disconnected way.What I'm skeptical about is whether this will be the world as it exists in reality over interesting time horizons. Smart Internet vs. Dumb-Internet and Non-Internet is effectively a rephrasing of HTML5 vs. apps.

That said, we've also gained a lot of experience suggesting that local state is a really handy thing in mobile. You don't hear too many speakers using terms like always-connected at conferences these days. (A wise move given that the conference attendees are likely struggling with the conference WiFi.) In truly mobile settings—outside of company and university campuses or homes—we've seen lots of advantages coming from easily managed local state. Which is to say apps.

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