Friday, February 28, 2014

Mobile+Cloud is the Next Big Thing

Last week, I bought a Lenevo Smartphone for my mother. It costed less than $100 (In India, we pay the full price for the handsets and there are no carriers subsidies)

The new phone comes with 16GB memory, 1 GB RAM, HD display, Andriod 4.3 Jellybean 16GB Flash, 5MP Camera, etc. In short the new phone is saturated with features and can do pretty much everything one can do with a high end iPhone.

Today, Smartphones and tablets are powerful enough to run applications that was once found only on a PC. The Network & Internet is everywhere. With 4G, Smartphones can download faster than most DSL services.

As hardware capability on a mobile platform matures to point where the next big innovation will happen in software. Some of this software innovation will be on the device - but big part of this innovation will be in the cloud.

Service providers and Startups and innovators are looking at means to make smartphones more useful and more valuable to customers. The revenue/customer from traditional phone services: Calls, SMS, & Data is declining and the value is shifting to the Apps. Dropbox is currently valued at $10Billion, Facebook spent $19B for WhatsApp! This acquisition is primarily driven by the potential value in the Apps - and not in the cellphone service.

Going by valuation alone, the total value of App companies is more than the combined value of phone companies!

As this shift happens, the use of cloud by mobile Apps will accelerate and create a new wave of innovation.

Types of Mobile Apps

As mobile phones evolved, mobile apps have also evolved and the apps can be classified broadly into 3 categories:

1. Generation-1 App: Basic Phone Apps
Application uses only the phone resources. These applications are tightly tied to the phone. Eg: iWork suite.

2. Generation-2 App: Web Applications. 
The Phone apps is a rehashed version of the web application. Eg: Facebook, Gmail, etc. The same application can be accessed on a PC or on a smartphone.

3. Generation-3 App: Cloud Apps. 
Cloud Apps leverage the compute & storage capabilities of the cloud and little phone resources to deliver unique experiences to users. For eg: Dropbox, Snapchat, Mobile gaming, etc.

Today, Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming devices to access cloud resources. As the trend catches on, the use of cloud by mobile applications will be the leading use of cloud computing, surpassing personal computers. And as that happens development of new and innovative applications - which will enable users to exploit cloud computing in multiple ways.

This shift is happening as we speak. Phone service providers and transforming into cloud service providers. Some carriers are moving the base station functionality from the cell site to a cloud data center. These cloud datacenters allow phone service providers with tremendous compute capability and that capability can now be used by new Gen-3 Apps.

For example, how about getting real time traffic & weather information on the route you are travelling on your mobile. Say for example alerting you of a traffic jam 400 meters ahead!
Another example could be relaying information about the best deals in a shopping mall to users based on user preference etc.

Phone Service providers and Cloud service providers can offer new Apps - that can give real time information to users. Cloud computing capability provides huge number crunching capability to process Big data, and end users can consume this results from their mobile phones - in new and unique ways.
For example, creating a mashup of Airline travel information and weather information can help a local taxi driver get more business.

Mobile network and phones will be rapidly commoditized in the cloud era, Forcing service providers to innovate and become platform providers or application providers.

For example, a user can create a document on a table using iWork & have the cloud services to get the document processed for publication. Proof reading, Editing, reformatting, Translating etc., can be done either by machines or humans or a mix of both - all enabled by the cloud, and finally published in the cloud.

Closing Thoughts 

The growth of mobile technology has clearly changed our lives. As mobile platforms mature, and cloud infrastructure evolves, the use of cloud computing through mobiles will increase and have a much bigger and deeper impact on our lives.

Phone service providers and application providers will have to innovate on developing new tools and capabilities - which will allow users to develop new and unique apps.


Suman's BLOG said...

Good informative article. It alerts web developers like us to prepare for next Big Change.

Thank You!
Suman, Manipal Student

dhanesh salla said...

Really informative,Thanks

Sharan Walia said...
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