Gates and Ellison: Friends at Last
Even though I am an avid Apple mobile device user, as the CEO of theCOMMSapp, a native app development technology platform, I took interest in the recent reviews of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 tablet. Not the new bells and whistles; but rather what I believe it represents for the future of computing and, in particular, mobile computing.
Many years ago, Oracle’s Larry Ellison made the provocative statement that “PCs are ridiculous devices — they are all wrong.” A decade ago, this was considered absurd. However, Ellison was spot on. Think about it this way — what has Oracle’s business been since its inception? Cloud computing. What is Apple vested in? The mobile device. What is Google spending millions upon millions of dollars on? Mobile. What is Microsoft now realizing they need to be part of? The mobile revolution.
Now let me get to my point — Microsoft’s Surface tablet validates Ellison’s point that the PC is nothing more than a mechanism for content and Internet delivery. Oracle, Apple, Google and now Microsoft — four of the technology behemoths – have determined that the mobile device, not the PC, should be, and is, the mechanism through which users access the Internet, information and conduct work. To the extent cloud computing (a/k/a Internet computing) becomes the norm, the mobile device, as an Internet delivery mechanism, will render the desktop PC obsolete.
Based on the pace at which mobile has proliferated over the past few years, this paradigm shift is occurring as we speak. As a result, it has significant implications for website and software developers. There has been much debate recently on the pros and cons of responsive design or HTML5 app development as compared to native app development. Responsive design is nothing more than a short-term solution for avoiding the reality of what is to come. To the extent the operating systems of the mobile device will replace those of desktop PCs as we know them, then logic would have it that developers will have no choice but to develop for the operating systems native to the mobile device (mobile first) rather than continuing to find work around ways to hang on to developments of the past (i.e. for the PC).
This should not be perceived as a threat to those who have made their living for the past decade or more through PC-based software and solutions. Rather it is an opportunity. The companies that should be concerned are those that have hung their hats on and continue to develop for desktop PCs and include a responsive design add-on to their solutions or work product. These companies must now find a way to take their already existing and successful solutions that provide for robust user experiences on the PC and make them equally so for the mobile device. Responsive design is a naïve excuse for not accepting what the future will be. It’s a good faith attempt to try to fit a square peg into a round hole that will not exist in a few years. Once the PC is gone, so too will responsive design be rendered meaningless.
What does all of this have to do with the new Surface Pro 3? Microsoft does not want its legacy to go down the same path as technology companies like Blackberry. While not acknowledging it in a public way, Bill Gate’s company has heeded the advice of Larry Ellison, checked its ego at the door, developed a hardware solution and made its software available for any mobile device via Office 365. In doing so, Microsoft has finally joined the ranks of Apple, Google and Oracle in acknowledging that the future of computing is cloud/Internet computing and not PC computing.
Jeff Corbin is the founder of theCOMMSapp, a native app development technology platform.
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