It’s clear that whatever success the iPad has (and I’m on record as saying I think it will be huge), that success is enabled by “the cloud.” There is no future for a device like the iPad were it not for the ability of people to store, access, download and upload to “the cloud.” Furthermore, there seems to be a quickening pace around how comfortable people are putting sensitive things in the cloud (a pace that I think the iPad only helps).
In that context, it’s interesting to take a look at what the early early iPad version can teach us about where things will go in the enterprise cloud world:
1. Downloaded Apps are back: As Phil Windley (and several others) has pointed out, there’s something really amazing happening around applications. The iPad is NOT all about the browser. In fact, it’s more about downloading apps (my early mistake: buying the 32GB model thinking I wouldn’t need any space. iPad #2 will be 64GB and 3G). This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, apps are “stickier” and can create a much richer experience than a lot of browser-based experiences. Second, there is a dis-intermediation of Google’s search prominence that happens when “it’s all about apps” (this is a VERY important point and one I’ll come back to in later posts). Third, “vendor lock-in” takes on multiple new meanings.
2. Will the enterprise cloud be a downloaded app-centric world? If this is any early indication, it just might. App marketplaces, apps downloaded locally that access the cloud. And all of the accompanying benefits and problems. For one thing, it’ll make the “platform wars” in the cloud all about controlling the app marketplace for enterprises. On the flip-side, interoperability will get solved (although not necessarily in a good way).
3. The “future” of the cloud starts to look radically different — with a whole new set of pitfalls and potential pots of Gold — when you approach through a downloaded app lens, and not a browser lens. It’s a view that I haven’t heard expressed much, but one I think that we need to start thinking about and paying attention to –and quick.
If the iPad is any indication, the “cloud” might be all about the downloaded app.