Steve Jobs predicted, ten years ago, that the future of computing included the creation of a virtual desktop. Cloud computing is the seed of that prediction coming true.
But, I believe, there is one massive hurdle to be overcome before we can truly say the desktop, as we know it, is dead. That hurdle comes in the shape of people.
As a nation we hoard, we want to hold and touch our products, we want to see what we have purchased. The principles of cloud computing takes all of these qualities away from the individual. But can we really let go… I have my doubts.
Possibly as generations become more accustomed with the notion of their purchases being almost invisible will we see cloud computing adopted without the thought of using an alternative. To put everything into perspective, it has to be taken into account, that the current ‘digital’ generation is of an age to remember (and still does) purchasing CDs, DVDs, books, magazines etc from retail stores, not just online. The transition to the extreme of cloud computing isn’t a small step, more a leap of faith.
Even as a web-savvy individual who spends each day immersed in technology, and it’s progress, taking the step of using Spotify as my primary music library wasn’t an easy choice. My mind-set was that “but I don’t really own the files”. To a degree this is true and the biggest difference to using a desktop application. With cloud applications you pay for the service, not for the individual items. Using the case of Spotify, they charge £10 a month for a Premium subscription. Compare this with purchasing digital albums from the likes of iTunes, Amazon or 7Digital. You would be lucky to get two albums, that you really want, for £10. The reality is that the service is extremely cost effective giving you the ability to do all but burn a CD with a selection of your tracks on… and who burns CDs these days?