Rafe Needleman writes:
For years I have been hearing startups pitch the idea of the “information furnace” – the computing appliance that consumers would install in their home the way other utility appliances are installed – in the basement, out of sight and mind.
Until recently there was really no need for such an appliance in the vast majority of households; desktop and laptop computers supplied all the processing, communication, and storage that most people needed. But with the growth in digital content that consumers are now storing (photos, music, and video files, not to mention e-mail archives), and the growth in broadband-connected, multi-PC homes, the era of the home server “appliance” may finally be dawning. In fact, we may soon start to see people “place-shift” their content using small servers and the Internet, the same way “time-shifting” was enabled by VCRs and videotapes.
Here are my thoughts on what I think of as the next platform:
It will be a multimedia-enabled thin client with server-based computing (via LAN-Grids and Operator-Grids) over Broadband, and available to users as a service (say, $15 per user per month – for device, server platform, broadband connectivity, remote management, and support).
It has a DSP in the thin client to do video and VoIP. The desktop thin client will also be complemented with a mobile thin client (a cellphone). All data is stored on the server, so users don’t have to think of “my computer” because they have ubiquitous access to “my data.”
The view on the client is adjustable depending on the device — big display at home/office, and small display with the mobile phone. In addition, the thin clients will have some local memory and processing power to support “occasioanlly connected computing.”