A couple of days ago, I wrote about the "need" for a Web OS and opined that replication of what already works is not likely to influence the vast majority of PC users to the cloud. I concluded that post by saying the following:
"That movement will be driven by collaboration, sharing of information and files in the context of collaboration (not as a standalone "service") and by linked communities that are self-organizing based on shared interests as in MySpace and Flickr. It will not be propelled by word processing, simple file transfer, and location-based printing."
Last night, my wife and I watched the coverage of the foiled terrorist attacks in London. As I have a busy travel week ahead of me next week, the impact on air travel hit pretty close to home and, hearing that travelers in the UK were no longer being allowed to carry laptops onto the plane got me thinking about the long-term implications of terrorism and increasingly stringent travel rules on mobility and portable technologies.
This may be an external catalyst to a migration of data to the cloud - one I should have seem coming but frankly did not. I don't know about you, but the notion of putting my laptop through the ordeal of the commercial carriers' baggage handling gymnasium is not terribly comforting. I can see my ideas about the value of a laptop loaded with all of my "stuff" changing dramatically if we get to the point here in the US that we can not bring a laptop onto a plane as carry on luggage or if the time penalty associated with carrying personal electronics becomes too costly.
I might elect, instead, to have a configured laptop, sans data, available in my California office. If my "stuff is in the cloud or on a USB stick, I can then plug in and get to work without a lot of the hassle. Yes, I lose the time I could be getting work done on the plane itself but, truth be told, as the airlines provide less and less room between rows, it's getting pretty difficult to accomplish a lot of PC work anyway. I tend to either read and scribble on my Tablet PC or leave the kit in the bag and read some dead tree material instead.
I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new Treo 700p. I'm thinking that, with its greater storage and faster performance, a small folding keyboard and a Treo might be a better airplane solution. I could connect to my stuff in the cloud before boarding, grab a document or two to work on, and then upload the modified documents back into the cloud when we land.
In fact, if the DHS, FAA, and the commercial carriers enact a ban on laptops on planes (ooh… Samuel L. Jackson, where are you? I have your next movie plot. "There's some *&$#@ laptops on the plane!"), we might see a resurgence of interest in net connectivity built into the aircraft. Instead of a WiFi connection, imaging an LCD display built into the seatback in front of you and a keyboard built into the snack tray. Log into your "stuff" in the cloud and bang away merrily while in the air. Hmmm…. Southwest, Jet Blue, Richard Branson, are you listening? This could be the next differentiator in the flying experience and a great revenue generator in an age of shrinking fare margins.
What do you think? Might the ongoing threats posed by terrorists and the inevitable tightening of security regulations leads us down one of these paths?
Update: Loren Heiny has some great thoughts on this topic.