How relevant will the desktop be in the next 5 years ? I don’t know about you, but I do more an more in online tools such as hotmail, gmail, googledocs, etc
I want to offer you 3 perspectives to this trend:
- A business to business point of view (Salesforce)
- A 2007 (!) vision by Aza Raskin from Mozilla Labs
- The announcement of Google Wave and OS
I have included 3 video is this post. The first one is short (1:54), the others are longer (1 hour 20 min) and (1 hour 20 min) respectively. But i can assure you they are worth every minute.
Let’s start with Salesforce. On 9 June 2009, I attended the free Salesforce-event “CloudTour 2009” in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
This was a very, very professionally run event with very professional speakers (drilled like an army). They flew over a number of hotshots from San Francisco for this event.
Some key facts about Salesforce:
- 1,2 Billion $ revenue in FY 2009
- 59,000+ customers
- 1,5 Million users
- 100 Million API transactions per day
- Average response time: 300 Milliseconds
- 3 releases per year, without any disruption for customers
- Customers: big to small. Some examples: Solvay, VUM, Polycom, DELL, Corporate Express
All this to say this is not Mickey Mouse business: these folks exist for 10 years. This is mature business.
Their tag-line is: NO SOFTWARE.
Everything runs in the cloud.
There was a great demo on deep integration in Services Cloud of Twitter, Facebook discussions in Salesforce app, direct visibility in Google search. All in real-time.
Another demo was about “Building an app in 30 minutes”. They built in essence an expense report app like most companies have. Built and on-line in 30 minutes: With currency conversions, linked to accounts for which the expenses are incurred, with approval workflow, access management etc. All this was point and click. Not one single line of coding.
Peter Coffee, Director Platform Research had some strong messages about the economics of cloud. He stated that all of the following is commodity and does not add business value, and is ready to go to the cloud: Email, twitter, backup, security, virtualization, OS patches, running an Operating Centre, messaging. He also stated that SaaS, IaaS, PaaS are not relevant in itself. It’s about the apps and the business value add you create with that. And that cloud is NOT about IT budget cost reduction !
It is about moving from “less low level people on less value tasks” to “high value level people on high value tasks”
Your IT budget may go UP over the years, as you spent more on high value tasks
Beware of the expectation it is easy or cheap
When strolling through the exhibitor space, picked up a comment from a customer:
Now that I have this, I never want to go back to on-premise. This works. Never any probs of crashes and alike or things that do not work. Unbelievable I ever accepted doing business the old way.
Let’s have a look at what Aza Raskin had to say about the desktop.
“Had” because this is dated May 2007, more than 2 years ago.
I am a big fan of Aza. See also my post on Mash-ups and Cloud and Semantic Web.
His bio is fantastic:
Aza is currently the Head of User Experience for Mozilla Labs, where he works on crafting the future of the web. He’s led projects ranging from semantic language-based interfaces (Ubiquity), to redesigning the Firefox extension platform (Jetpack). Aza gave his first talk on user interface at age 10 and got hooked. At 17, he was talking and consulting internationally; at 19, he coauthored a physics textbook because he was too young to buy alcohol; at 21, he started drinking alcohol and co-founded Humanized. Two years later, Aza founded Songza.com, a minimalist music search engine that had over a million song plays during it’s first week of operation. In another life, Aza has done Dark Matter research at both Tokyo University and the University of Chicago, from where he graduated with degrees in math and physics.
His GoogleTalk in 2007 was titled “Away with Applications: The Death of the Desktop”. On the opening picture, he looks even a bit like the very young Bill Gates ;-). Aza was born in 1984. So 25 years old now !
And it is NOT about bashing on Microsoft. He is explaining why it does not make sense anymore to follow what has been.
He is using some pretty powerful metaphors: the shovel analogy, “it’s not Microsoft’s fault”, Analog vs. Digital watch, “Start with the manual”.
If you don’t have the time to view the full video, go straight to minute 21 or so. In essence most user interfaces force the user to adhere to the program hierarchy of the developer.
He goes on with seeing natural language as a universal access to application: like you search the web, you could also search services. Basically, there are 4 “do this” commands: create, select, navigate, and transform.
Aza will this week also speak at TEDGlobal 2009 in the Connected Consequences track. I have also invited Aza to speak at SWIFT’s Sibos 2009, in the Innotribe track for which i am the overall content owner.
Enjoy Aza !
The other announcement that created a twitter & blog storm on the internet was Google Wave. Just google “Google Wave” and you will see what i mean ;-)
I don’t get all the criticasters. This is really very cool stuff and it is going to change fundamentally how we think of online communication. I strongly recommend to watch every minute of this launch event video.
On May 29, a couple of days after the announcement, i spotted a Facebook comment from a person with a quite high-level position in the Belux Microsoft organization: "Not impressed by Google Wave. More of the same in a different jacket. Ever watched conversations in Outlook 2010 ?"
As i am an ex-Microsoft employee, and still have some friendly contacts there, i wrote him an e-mail and explained that i was soon going to write something on my blog on this and the relevance of the desktop.
I asked to share some links to Outlook 2010 to be able to link my readers to what Microsoft has to offer in this area so that my readers can make up their own mind ? This is the answer i got: “Outlook 2010 is in Technical Preview – we cannot show outside. But if you look on the web you will find a couple of things about it.”
So it’s “help yourself” at http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/. Oh yeah, you probably will have to pay for Office 2010. Last week, Microsoft also announced they will offer a FREE on-line version of Office as part of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2010 release.
To close this post, a really good opinion on this in Hutch Carpenter’s blog “I’m actually not a geek”. One of his latest posts relate to SaaS and also relates to Google’s more recent announcement of the Chrome OS.
He positions all this in the context of Clayton Christensen’s “disruptive innovation” model, and goes on:
Which brings us to the PCs of today. They are marvels, providing a slick experience for users and able to accommodate a host of new applications. But if I were a betting man, I’d say the most common activities people do with their computers are:
- Surf the web, engage in social media
- Write documents
- Build spreadsheets
- Create presentations
- Consume and work with media (video, music, graphics)
- Use web-based business apps
Among those activities, what’s the magic of client-based computing? The media-related activities perhaps require the horsepower of a client app. But even those are getting better with web apps.
I recently decided to switch from hotmail to gmail.
Competition is good.
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