iPhone 4 and the Cloud

iPhone 4 and the Cloud

Summary: A siren song calling people to the cloud


There is a race going on among the suppliers of smartphones, such as Apple Computer's recently announced iPhone 4, to create handheld devices that can replace both a mobile telephone, a GPS, a music and video player and, for some functions, a mobile computer. My colleagues here on ZDnet are all over this announcement (see iPhone 4: Apple raises the bar; AT&T pushes it back down and Good job with iPhone 4, but the Sprint HTC EVO 4G is staying for a couple of examples).

Although I have some strong opinions about the device and AT&T's terms and conditions, pricing and overall customer service, I'll just focus on one aspect this announcement and announcements of competitive devices coming from RIM, HTC, Nokia and others. That aspect is that these devices are introducing cloud computing offerings to many who might not otherwise care. The folks purchasing these devices don't really care about all of that, however. They just want a slick looking, highly functional device.

Most of these devices rely heavily on network based applications and services to deliver the experience the device suppliers flog.  Easy and instant access to everything from telephone directories, lists of local restaurants, directions and maps are only the beginning.

We're seeing for-pay access to television, streaming movies and other entertainment services. We're also seeing Software as a Service products, such as customer relationship management, banking and other applications, being made available through these devices. Suppliers, such as Citrix, have made access to corporate applications easily available as well (their demo showing an executive getting an alert on the smartphone, looking up data on their laptop computer, and finishing the deal on the desktop system is outstanding).

If we look at survey data that explores how organizations are adopting cloud computing, we see that small and medium size organizations and developers have rushed in where large companies fear to tread. They're not as concerned about compliance, security and integration with a large number of established systems. The large companies say that they're holding back until these issues are addressed.

If we look at what they're doing and ignore what they're saying for the moment, however, we see that many of their employees have personally purchased devices such as the iPhone and competitors. Whether the IT organization likes it or not, important company data and contact lists are already in the cloud.

The iPhone 4 and its competitors are like a siren song calling staff to take steps into the cloud. The promise of anytime, anywhere access to just about everything is leading them on.

Topics: Cloud, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Servers, Virtualization


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • RE: iPhone 4 and the Cloud

    Meh. I have an iPod touch that is spending more and more time sitting on the desk while I go back to using a laptop or desktop. Why? Because other than checking the weather, using such a small device for more than a few minutes becomes frustrating. The problem isn't connectivity, it's the form factor of the device itself. The iPhone/iPod are small enough to carry in a pocket, but too small to really be useful. The iPad is marginally more useful, but since it requires a separate bag to carry around, why not just get a lightweight laptop? Maybe the world is heading down the road to these ridiculous devices because humanity doesn't want to do anything beyond inane Farcebook updates.
    • I agree, screen size is the real limiter

      @aep528 Its the screen technology that is the limiter. Some way of unfolding, unrolling or projecting is needed to make hand helds really shine.
  • Reader response

    Here's a response from a reader who had trouble with ZDnet's new system:

    Dan - I had some trouble posting on the site so I thought I'd just send a quick note. I've seen IT folks paralyzed at the notion you describe and others excited at the world of apps/services it opens for them. But most have been in the middle, worried about basic security, and not yet having had the time to think through the longer-term implications. The notion of endpoints with this level of horsepower and breadth of connectivity has been difficult for most traditional IT control mechanisms to manage. But like a lot of things in mobile, it will undoubtedly sneak up on them as users start moving this direction themselves, regardless of whether corporate IT wants them to or not.
  • RE: iPhone 4 and the Cloud

    Meanwhile, early adopters are simply getting to grips with the technology by pitting its uses against everyday tasks, and are finding out wonderful things that could greatly aid and be aided by the enterprise and the Cloud.<br><br>When I sprint into a train station from a car park or taxi, thanks to National Rail app on my iPhone 3GS I am headed straight to the platform I need without wasting a second looking up at confused, cluttered and outdated station screens. I also know how many train changes, when and what platform they will arrive on.<br><br>On the platform as I wait for the train I log into my home XP PC within 3 seconds via Mocha VNC, activate its keyboard macros to start up my Sky TV set-top box and Windows Media Centre and arrange for the latest episode of "Caprica" to record before I get home. Or if its already on, I get Orb Media Center shut down its Windows equivalent to stream it to my handset and sit back with my bluetooth stereo headphones watching it (in between receiving calls and checking emails while the ever-present commercials run). With the imminent iOS4 upgrade, I will additionally be able to keep the video stream going while answering calls, reading emails or surfing the Web.<br><br>Smartphones are only going to get more powerful, longer-lasting, more capable and intelligent, the wireless networks enabling them much faster, widespread and resilient, so the enterprise would do well to get on board by starting their lab testing now.
  • RE: iPhone 4 and the Cloud

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  • RE: iPhone 4 and the Cloud

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