Serving Client-Side Applications

Marc Canter points to a post by Oliver Steele: “In a traditional server-side web application, the server renders a series of views which are downloaded, as HTML, to the client. A client-side web application is an application that is deployed from a server and displays data from a server, but can render a series of views on the client.”

Linux and PalmSource

Andrew Carton writes about the acquisition of China MobileSoft (CMS) by PalmSource:

Following this announcement, some people commented that they saw PalmSource’s move to Linux as a final ‘desperate’ attempt to rescue the company’s fledging fortunes. For my part, I view it as a very smart and exciting strategic move and one that I envisage will completely and positively transform PalmSource, the PalmOS and the Palm community at large.

Perhaps some of the negative comments stem from the fact that until now PalmSource’s software has been synonymous with “PDA” software. Since the PDA market is now stagnant or in decline, people have thus viewed the future of the company as uncertain. However, I believe that PalmSource’s strategic move has not been analyzed in the right context, nor been given the benefit of some imagination and overall misses to identify significant future opportunities.

if future opportunites for PalmSource are not to be found in its traditional PDA niche where will they be? My answer: the PalmOS will be everywhere there is a need to power handheld devices. Mobile Phones, MP3 Players, Portable Movie Players, Portable Game Players, Digital Cameras and eBooks are but some of these handheld devices.

Across the world, there are three industries that manufacture and need the software to power these handheld devices and PalmSource could become a key partner to all of them.

First there is the mobile phone industry and palmOne, Samsung, GSPda and Qool are but a few of its existing licensees in this space. Nokia, Motorola, LG, SonyEricsson meanwhile are among the leading worldwide manufacturers.

Second is the consumer electronics industry with behemoths such as Sony, Samsung, Philips and RCA who typically produce most if not all of the previously listed handheld devices. An increasing number of small independent players typically develop just a few of these handheld devices.

Third is the computer industry with players such as Dell, HP, IBM, Sony and Apple who have developed PDA’s and/or MP3 Players and have shown (to the exception of IBM) a strong interest in expanding their reach across the consumer electronics market.

However, as you will have undoubtedly noticed, something revolutionary is happening across these three industries. Namely, they are “converging” and increasingly competing across each others’ boundaries. Apple, a computer company, develops the iPod, a consumer electronics device. Dell does the same. Nokia, a mobile phone company, develops the nGage, also a consumer electronics device. These are but a few of the largest representative examples but the trend is growing rapidly and new players seem to appear almost on a daily basis.

The name typically associated with this revolution is Digital Convergence. I believe that it opens gigantic new opportunities for PalmSource and its move to Linux will significantly help the company in its efforts to exploit these.

Mobile Phones for Homebrew Sensors

WorldChanging has a story about a “Czech company called Bladox, which manufactures small circuit boards and software to plug into old mobile phones.”

Bladox makes boards and software allowing for a wide variety of inputs; better still, their applications are all licensed under the GPL. With this hardware, pretty much any kind of low-power sensor system (temperature, location, motion, air quality, etc. etc.) could be hooked up. Rigging a mobile phone as part of a sensor system takes care of one of the critical elements of any such device: communicating results. As long as there’s network coverage in the sensor location, the results can be sent to anyone in the world with a phone. And the sensor-phone would still have a phone number, allowing for calling in to get results as needed. There are numerous solar panel rechargers for phones, so keeping the battery topped up wouldn’t even be a big issue.

The vast majority of mobile phone users discard their old phones long before they stop working. The fact that many mobile services “lock” the phones, making them only work with that particular service (unless unlocked, a sometimes tricky process), makes such a wasteful practice almost inevitable. There are millions of completely functional but ostensibly useless phones out there; you probably have a few sitting around your home (I know I do). While recycling is possible (and far preferable to just throwing them out, given the toxic metal content), there’s something particularly appealing about reusing the phone in novel ways.

eBay and Craigslist

Micro Persuasion speculates that the two will merge to create a P2P media giant:

eBay and Craig’s List are already the leaders in facilitating person-to-person commerce. They have also been steadily growing closer together – in August eBay acquired a 25% stake in Craig’s List. In 2005 they will take this to the next level when eBay acquires the rest of Craig’s List it doesn’t own and then enables customers to blog right on their unified site. This will usher in a new era where citizen journalism is directly funded by person-to-person commerce. eBay community bloggers will be able to earn revenues either from their own auction listings or from classified sponsors who choose to advertise on their eBay weblog. In short, eBay will empower consumers to establish a micro version of the media business model that has been around for generations, but only accessible to the big boys.

The two companies have already eaten away at one of the core underpinnings of big media – the classified advertising dollar. So it’s not hard to imagine them getting closer, empowering their customers to blog and thus closing the advertising/commerce/content circle. Consider what Dan Gillmor said earlier this year at the O’Reilly Digital Democracy Forum … “The real threat to traditional journalism isn’t blogging. It’s eBay, the largest classified ads publisher.”

Paper on Google Desktop Search

Greg Linden points to a paper by Seth Nielson, Seth Fogarty, and Dan Wallach. Greg highlights some interesting points from the paper:

1. Google Desktop must be observing all outgoing network connections.
2. Google Desktop performs packet analysis to identify HTTP proxy connections in addition to looking for direct connections to Google.
3. The search requests did not need to originate from a web browser visiting Google.com.
4. Integration is triggered by observing outgoing packets, and occurs after packets are received, but before they are given to the web browser or application.

This is pretty cool. Google Desktop Search integrates local results into a Google search by intercepting the request out to Google and rewriting it before it gets to the web browser.

TECH TALK: The Best of 2004: Trends (Part 2)

Gaming: Entertainment has been and will continue to be one of the biggest drivers for consumers in the upper end of the socio-economic pyramid. The nature of entertainment is shifting. Even as game consoles proliferate and video games rival movies with blockbuster openings (Microsofts Halo 2 recorded first day sales of $125 million), two emerging trends are online gaming and mobile gaming. Broadband is fueling the online gaming trend Chinas Shanda was the best-performing IPO of the year. Mobile phones are becoming more powerful and with bigger, colour screens have the capability to offer anytime, anywhere gaming.

Blogging: While blogging may not yet have hit the mass market, it is now no longer on the periphery. Blogging is providing an alternative to mainstream media. Individuals either alone or in groups are writing directly to the Web. With syndication technologies like RSS and various aggregation and search services, it is also easier to find and stay in touch with the writings (and increasingly, recordings) of bloggers.

Simplicity: If there was one theme that dominated computing, it relates to simplifying the growing complexity of technology. Software-as-a-Service is one manifestation of this trend. In emerging markets, this desire for simplicity will dovetail with the need for affordability to create value-for-money solutions. This will create new opportunities to reinvent computing for the next billion users as a service, with learnings from the world of telecom in the form of both zero-management access devices and subscription-based billing.

Open-Source: The architecture of participation as applied to software is showing its power. Even as Linux makes inroads on the server, the growing market share of Firefox in the browser market (albeit from a very tiny start) has demonstrated that the bazaar can indeed make a difference. On a related note, the software industry is also starting to see consolidation as Oracle finally managed to acquire PeopleSoft and Symantec snapped up Veritas in multi-billion dollar deals.

Viruses, Spam, Spyware: The problems of viruses, spam and spyware continue, but we are also making progress in this battle. Viruses do arise, but they are little more then threats for some. Spam is starting to be controlled at the gateway-level. Spyware remains a threat but can be minimised with some precautions.

Going ahead, the world that I see emerging is one where multimedia-capable thin clients (either on the desktop in the office, home, educational institutions, or computing centres, or in our hands) connect to a centralised platform of services over broadband and wireless networks. Content, computing and connectivity will be available on a subscription basis. This world will start emerging first in the developing nations. This world will create new opportunities for incumbents who will need to adjust and disruptors who will have the potential to build the next Googles.

Tomorrow: Search Wars

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