Jan 9, 2011

Impact of Mobile Computing on the Web.

The short answer is "client/server" model again.

There is no question that both smart phones & tablets will become (if not already) important devices across the age groups in both personal & business use for web computing. There was a joke last week that during CES there was more tablets than taxis in Las Vegas! The limited real estate in these devices has happily brought back the "client apps" on the web. The "app stores" are basically AOL and only difference is the input: touch computing.

Is client/server model is good?
-Probably not.

-closed model

How is client/server model is not good?
-Dependency on the OS
-Developing open/open source tools for development will be challenging
-Potential to hijack even HTTP
-Information sharing may become challenging
-Basically this mobile apps concept will eventually be pushed back to the main-computer-web(already!) to enable vendor lock-in

Remember client/server 1.0? Remember the challenges?

It may be an accident but the 2 virtual machines with a open protocol made the commercial web 1.0 possible & viable.
-Browser on the client; Make the OS irrelevant for the end users
-JVM on the server; Make the OS irrelevant for the developers
-HTTP; Open & simple protocol

I agree that it is a challenge to use web browsers on the smart phones. We need apps.

So, the question is how do we develop apps across different OS? We need a virtual layer like JVM for the client OS. One option is take the VM concept from Java and port it to browsers. So the browser becomes the platform to run apps. This model of developing apps on top of browser already exists in Firefox for developing plugins/extensions- check out XPCOM. (Cross Platform Component Object Model) XPCOM has it's own complexity problem. I am just referring it as a model. A model something like this one has to be enriched/enhanced to make it as a true platform to run cross platform mobile apps.

This type of model will allow open competition and innovation. The innovation will happen not only in the mobile apps on client devices but also in the server land for the "attach rate".

We need open mobile platform to avoid lock-ins.

Happy New Year-2011.