Steve Duplessie’s recent post on how the lack of scarcity will be a gamechanger got me thinking. Free is good but the simplicity of the user/administrative interface is worth paying for. And it’s that simplicity that pays off for me.
Ease of use
I agree wholeheartedly with Steve about what and where people should spend their time today. Tweetdeck, the Mac, and the iPhone are three key examples that make my business life easier (most of the time).
- TweetDeck allows me to filter who I am following all while giving me access to any and all of them.
- The Mac leaves me much more time to do what needs to be done and allows me to spend less time on non-essential stuff.
- The iPhone has 1000’s of app’s which make my idle time that much more productive.
Nobody would say any of these things are easy to create and for most of them (Tweetdeck is free at the moment) I pay a premium for these products. All these products have significant complexity to offer the simple user and administrative interface they supply.
The iPhone is probably closest to the cloud from my perspective. But it performs poorly (compared to broadband) and service (ATT?) is spotty. Now these are nuisances in a cell phone which can be lived with. If this were my only work platform they would be deadly.
Now the cloud may be easy to use because it removes the administrative burden but that’s only one facet of using it. I assume using most cloud services are as easy as signing up on the web and then recoding applications to use the cloud provider’s designated API. This doesn’t sound easy to me. (Full disclosure I am not a current cloud user and thus, cannot talk about it’s ease of use).
However, today the cloud is not there for other reasons – availability concerns, security concerns, performance issues, etc. All these are inhibitors today and need to be resolved before the cloud can reach the mainstream or maybe be my platform of choice. Also, I have talked before on some other issues with the cloud.
Aside from those inhibitors, the other main problems with the cloud are lack of applications I need to do business today. Google Apps and MS Office over the net are interesting but not sufficient. Not sure what is sufficient and that would depend on your line of business but server and desktop platforms had the same problem when they started out. However servers and desktops have evolved over time from killer apps to providing needed application support. The cloud will no doubt follow, over time.
In the end, the cloud needs to both grow up and evolve to host my business model and I would presume many others as well. Personally I don’t care if my data&apps are hosted on the cloud or hosted on office machines. What matters to me are security, reliability, availability, and useability. When the cloud can support me in the same way that the Mac can, then who hosts my applications will be a purely economic decision.
The cloud and net are just not there yet.