4G + cloud = the death of the PC

John C. Tanner
03 May 2010
Meanwhile, says Stross, PC prices have already dropped fairly close to commodity levels. The profit margins in five years will be mobile/portable devices that leverage the 4G/cloud future and replace the need for a central home computing device with a collection of devices accessing centrally stored apps and content via 50-megabit wireless connections.
Consequently, Stross hypothesizes, Jobs is betting his company’s future on this, and putting a premium on maintaining as much control over the ecosystem as possible, as iTunes and the App Store will be critical platform components of any cloud-based strategy in the future.
He may be on to something here, although I have serious doubts that it will be that straightforward.
For a start, Stross predicts both 4G and cloud computing will be sufficiently up and running by 2015. LTE and 802.16m may be deployed by then in select markets, but not many, and full coverage will be rare.
More to the point, “cloud computing” requires widespread adoption and development of a multitude of technologies and standards in every part of the Interweb value chain, as well as educating end-users on the concept that apps and content are things you pay to access, not to “own”. That’s going to take a lot longer than five years to come together with any cohesion.
Timing issues aside, though, there’s little doubt that both 4G and the cloud are on the way and will transform the way we use the Web, given enough time.
And it’s telling that Jobs explicitly described Flash as a technology “created during the PC era – for PCs and mice”, neither of which have any place in the coming mobile era of “low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards”.
So perhaps Jobs really is intent on laying as much groundwork as possible now to brace his company for the 4G cloud, whenever it arrives. Whether maintaining iron control over the Apple ecosystem is the ticket to achieving that is – and will continue to be – a matter for debate.
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