The web is absolutely abuzz over Apple’s iCloud introduction. Right now if you type the letters “ic” into Google it’s the immediate first several suggestions (take that ice and Ichabod Crane). But I’m not here to spout further web content on the particulars of Apple’s inaugural cloud technology platform. The introduction’s timeliness is needless to say genius. One week from now the Google Chromebook will be for sale in both Samsung and Acer bodies. This will be the company’s first attempt to wean computer users off of traditional laptop and netbook designs with hardware and software catered to operate with web content only, AKA Google Chrome OS. All it took was for Apple to talk about their competing aristocratic version of the genial Chrome concept for people to forget that one week from now the science of the laptop might change forever.
That might have something to do with most laptop reviews websites and other tech news and opinion outlets anticipating that the Chromebook model will crash and burn. Nobody thinks such a concept can compete against comparably priced netbooks with mere networking. Apple and others are instead focused on a way for their multiple sophisticated products to work together on a single network so customers can continue buying different product. ICloud and similar networks are the evident answer.
But whether or not the Chromebook is a failure, its existence is a declaration from Google of some future independence from sophisticated and therefore expensive machines. If access to an ever-present network above your head is all you need to use complicated programs and save data and so on, why invest in hardware designed to hold software you don’t need? Google sees a future, while not necessarily tomorrow or a near tomorrow, where the entire scope of computer usage is operated in the air, with devices themselves becoming nothing more than mere conduits. They see it so clearly they’re willing to risk a big investment on a certain flop like the Chromebook.
The guys at Google aren’t stupid. They know people won’t instantly warm up to the idea of surrendering all of their digital responsibilities and private information over to a cloud network in exchange for a cheaper means to compute. All the while Apple senses this contemporary feeling from most of the public and has designed a network that will encourage the continuation of using multiple devices through the assistance of, not reliance on, cloud technology. It validates not only their core business venture of manufacturing hardware, but the public’s sentiment that having a powerful computer to house information and utilize software is still a necessity.
Admittedly the way people like their personal computers to be is still the most optimum technique, with 100% reliance on a cloud network still a dream and not the reality Google wishes it to be. Google has no direct investment or reliance on sophisticated hardware technology like Apple. They have no incentive to propagate the use of expensive devices. They do, however, have the incentive to push people toward a full-network future.
These companies are maneuvering themselves like they were in a game of chess, and we’re only dealing with the opening moves. Where Apple and Google and the rest are positioning themselves today in the world of cloud technology says a lot about what they wish their endgames to be like. Take a hint from them to understand what truly awaits personal computers on the technology horizon.