Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

How The Cloud Will Bring The Future To The Global Masses

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 6, 2010

A simple wireless connection can bring the power of multiple supercomputers to a simple cell phone using cloud computing, the most powerful collection of technologies produced so far.

Yet the concept of cloud computing isn't well recognized even among some of our foremost technology leaders.

Take for example, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas. They recently co-published a long article The Digital Disruption, in Foreign Affairs magazine, the flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Relations.

They also spoke at the organization's CEO Speaker series. Here is part of a report by Anne Nelson writing for PBS Mediashift:

"I'm extraordinarily excited about the scale of the mobile revolution," Schmidt said. "... There are four to five billion mobile phones of one kind or another and we are approaching a billion smart phones."

Schmidt added that the effect of Moore's Law will be to transform smart phones into the world's dominant communications platform in the near future.

The implications of the mobile revolution, he said, "are just beginning to be understood. But remember that these devices are more powerful than supercomputers were a few years ago, and we are putting them in the hands of people who've never had anything like it before."

In the article and the talk, Mr Schmidt focuses on the power of the smart phone, and that it has the capabilities of a supercomputer from a few years ago. That might be true of some smart phones, but not of the "four to five billion mobile phones of one kind or another" that are out there.

It's extraordinary that Mr Schmidt and Mr Cohen made no mention of cloud computing. Because with cloud computing, those four to five billion mobile phones can have the power of a supercomputer from today -- not from several years ago.

I recently spoke with Ram Menon, Executive VP of Worldwide Marketing at Tibco Software. He travels a lot in India, and other developing economies such as Brazil.

"It's incredible how many people can now afford a simple cell phone. And it's incredible what you can do with simple text messaging. Farmers can get real-time pricing information on their crops, and much more. There's even a whole grass roots industry around powering cell phones, such as ways to convert a bicycle into a cell phone charging station. In remote places where there is no electric power, people can still use their mobile phones."

With a simple text message system you can bring the power of a supercomputer to the cheapest and simplest mobile phones via cloud computing. For many important applications there is no need to place supercomputing power in the device itself.

Simple cell phones can act as smart phones today, thanks to the cloud. That's an amazing technological advance.

It's strange that Messers Schmidt and Cohen have failed to notice this technology, and what it can do -- especially since they work at Google, which operates the largest cloud computing platform.

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There are more posts like this in my book: In My Humble Opinion


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