There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

Clouds, netbooks, and form factors

Because I am familiar with the ways of the pendulum, I am searching for a growing anti-cloud movement. Why? Because I know that when everyone and their grandmother is talking about the cloud today, there will soon come a time when everyone and their grandmother will stop talking about the cloud. And all of these tech publications that are telling you to learn about the cloud will soon devote tons of ink (or its digital equipment) to tell you why cloud solutions are terrible.

I’m still searching for the emerging anti-cloud movement, but I have found some evidence of old anti-cloud sentiment from a few years ago. One article that acknowledged this anti-cloud sentiment (while not buying into it) was this Mashable article from 2008.

However, this particular article mentions netbooks. Allow me to ask a question:

Q: What is the difference between admitting that you own a netbook and admitting that you murdered someone?

A: Murderers receive sympathy in some circles.

Yes, in 2012 you don’t want to be caught uttering the word “netbook” in public. Even I, an admitted fan of the netbook who is willing to live with its memory and screen limitations, have found at least one instance in which the netbook was found wanting. But I’ll get to that later.

Let’s go back to the 2008 Mashable article, which argued that the netbook would be the device that would convert anti-cloud people to cloud proponents. Why? Because mobile devices are so limited:

But to think we can rely on our iPhones and T-Mobile G1s and BlackBerry Bolds and Storms and whathaveyou to fully engage with office and social media applications seems a tad impractical. Mobile software designs are good and are getting better by the month, but the kind of pixelated real estate you can comfortably stuff in your pant pocket can only provide for so much interactivity. Of course, the outlook for power for the mobile phone market is as rosy as can be right now. But for the foreseeable future, there remains a place for bigger things.

Not so much bigger, though. We recently shared a few notes on the netbook space and how things are progressing in the field, both in hardware and software. It’s safe to say that in recent months, apart from the requisite dotage on Apple’s lineup of philosophically conventional MacBook and MacBook Pro products, the market of netbooks has transferred to a semi-front burner position in terms of attention grabbed and attention earned.

And its quite clear why that is. The class of gadgets led by the Asus EEE PC has performed in ways that would not be the case two or three years ago, and it’s mark as something of a phenomenon largely comes down to price.

However, since that article was written in 2008, the tablet market finally got around to taking off. While iPads are still much more expensive than small laptop computers (I’m not even sure if they’re called netbooks any more), there is a whole new category of tablets – the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the like – which are less expensive than small laptop computers.

And the Kindles et al lean heavily on the cloud. While off-line copies can be cached on your device, everything is managed in the cloud.

Oddly enough, while I have bought a book from the Amazon Kindle store, I do not own a Kindle. Instead, I have installed Kindle software on two non-Kindle devices – my netbook, and my smartphone.

And speaking of my netbook and smartphone, remember that one phrase from the 2008 Mashable article?

Mobile software designs are good and are getting better by the month, but the kind of pixelated real estate you can comfortably stuff in your pant pocket can only provide for so much interactivity.

However, it all depends upon design. The Communist Alec Baldwin has duped me into playing the Zynga game Words with Friends. I can play this game on both my smartphone and on my netbook.

The smartphone version of Words with Friends was specifically designed for the smartphone environment, and has been adapted to smartphone-sized screens.

The version of Words with Friends that I play on my netbook has NOT been adapted for netbook-sized screens, and I am unable to see the entire Words with Friends board when playing on my netbook. I guess Zynga is assuming that I have a 1900 x 1200 screen or something like that.

So, at least in this case, my smaller screen smartphone provides a richer experience than my larger screen netbook.

Starfleet Commander, however, is still better on the netbook, so I won’t be ditching the netbook any time soon.

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