Server-based Computing is what Google has highlighted more dramatically than perhaps any other company. For Google to win, they have to almost be the anti-Microsoft. What the desktop is to Microsoft, the Web is for Google a CommPuting Grid as a platform for delivering services.
Russell Buckley lays out a future a few years hence: You’re out shopping, with your mobile phone, obviously. Your mobile has taken over as your primary means of making all voice calls – using Google Net’s VoIP, naturally. Why would you use anything else, when it’s free and works everywhere? You don’t even have to search for a good connection like those old GSM phones. Your phone has also become your primary means of accessing the internet, again via Google Net, obviously. Your phone is a thin client, with most storage and processing done on the web. Most people don’t have even a PC anymore. If they want to do work that involves a keyboard and a bigger screen, they just pop their phone into the nearest docking station and away they go. With the added advantage that the phone has ensured that the screen layout, favourite apps, bookmarks and files are all available exactly as you’d want them.
The opportunity is still open for the Google of the Emerging Markets (GEM) and I dont think it will be Google. History has demonstrated that every time there is a platform shift, there is a new winner. We are now on the threshold of just such a platform shift along with a market shift. The next five years will see a billion users from the emerging markets get on the Internet and they will do so via their mobile phones and network computers. While companies like Microsoft and Google with their entrenched positions and cash reserves do have excellent chances of winning the hearts and minds of these new users, I believe that in five years, we will have a different company one that is perhaps just starting up today.
The key drivers for building out GEM will be around leveraging user-generated content, the two-way, multimedia capabilities of the phones, capitalising on the shift from search to subscriptions, and capturing and monetising the users attention. Think of this as the publish-subscribe web, where everyone can be a publisher. I can take photos or short videos from my mobile phone, and then publish them on to a server for sharing with friends and family. They would have set up subscriptions on content published by me and would be alerted immediately (on their mobile phones) of the new content that has been published.
The fact that everyone we know and want to reach can be reached instantly opens up a new world of possibilities it is very different from todays world. In countries like the US, the computer connected to broadband networks is still the centre of the world. That is why I believe this new world will first happen in countries like India. Here, the mobile phone has rapidly emerged as the one device which is available with everyone we know. But the phones are still mostly the voice-SMS devices. This will change with the emergence of 3G networks and better, cheaper phones. India can, thus be, the showcase for tomorrows world.
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