The Future of Computing

The major focus in the last few years in computing technology has been on “The Cloud”. The concept is basically a catch phrase for something that already existed but is just being marketed differently. It is kind of like Web 2.0 and Ajax in that respect. The idea behind the name though is to make the vast network of computers (the Internet) your source for everything computing related. Need movies? Go online. Need your spreadsheets? Go online.
I used to be all for this concept. The idea of reducing my dependency on the hard drive in my computer and relying on processing power far above my own appealed to me. The thing is that there is more going on in the world of technology that just big name technology designers coming out with new and amazing things that will make life easier and better than the day before. There are also the big name companies that control pivotal points of the basic infrastructure those new and amazing things have to use. Those points do not make money when another company comes out with a new product. They are like gas companies.
Gas companies do not make more money because General Motors came out with a new sedan. They make more money from 2 things: people buy more gas, or people pay more for their gas. If a car manufacturer makes advances causing less gas to be purchased, that gives them only one more option to make more money.
The same is similarly true for Internet service providers. To follow the analogy though, the way Internet is sold is like paying a monthly fee for a tank of gas. How much you use is irrelevant as long as every month you keep filling it up. Up until several years ago it was like having a bottomless tank but it only mattered which octane of fuel you used. Once a large majority of people started realizing that this Internet thing was awesome, the ISP’s found themselves in a tough situation. How do you make more money on something where technology advances only ended up costing more money? Now if it were a good economic business model you would see about cutting costs somehow, but let’s face it the majority of big corporations are filled with a large percentage of people’s jobs are to make sure they don’t get fired. They are not the ones that will end up clocking up with cost saving since them not being their would save the company a lot of money. So how do you do it? Make the customer pay more, increasing your revenue.
So how does this relate to the future of The Cloud? A new product to access the Cloud, or coming out with a new service on the cloud will only be successful if people can use it. Do you think increasing gas prices helps or hurts the automotive industry’s ability to produce cars? Do you think that the larger amount of recalls needed for vehicles in recent years is a coincidence? The same is true for Internet related product. If you produce an industry that is dependant on a third party to make it functional, eventually you create an economic Sword of Damocles but with no one party holding control and having all parties trying to find some way of making more money than they did before without completely destroying everything.
In the end I like the idea of cloud computing but at the same time it is far more likely to become a glorious disaster.

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