Monday, June 06, 2011

The Return of the Dumb Terminal

All this "cloud" stuff....

Declaring that the personal computer was no longer the central hub of people’s digital lives, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, on Monday unveiled the company’s new online storage and syncing service for music, photos, files and software.


About 40 years ago, the "dumb" terminal was hot stuff--largely because there WAS no itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini computing capability.

Then came the PC.

Now the PC is gone and the dumb terminal returns, according to Apple (who's merely the latest cloud-adapter.)

Another 40 years (or less), after all your personal data has been hijacked, and/or all your corporate SAAS-based records have been perused by the competitors, the PC will return.



steveegg said...

Throw in the fact that upload speeds on your typical home broadband account are hardly worth the name, and this has all the makings of a disaster.

GOR said...

Yes Dad, the cloud is the new 'mainframe' - but like the social networking apps I'd be concerned about personal data being 'out there' and the risk of being hacked.

Jeff Miller said...

This is not exactly a movement towards dumb terminals in anyway. Mostly it is a way to provide online backup of information since the data is to be downloaded to be used, not being used directly on the cloud. This is mostly about synching. Google Docs is a dumb terminal type of thing, but doing the work on a device where the data is also stored and worked from is just data and app synching.

There is something very positive when you have mobile devices and traditional computers as to keeping data synched on those devices.

Plus there is the problem of using mobile devices without a computer. In these scenarios there is hardly any wait to backup information and if your phone/tablet dies - you're out of luck. With the new service somebody could buy an iPad and then use it fully without even having a regular computer. This is certainly a use case for a group of people.

Being able to sync mobile devices from the cloud has many great benefits especially in those scenarios where you are away from your home computer, but have WiFi access. Plus if something happens to your device you won't be losing your data and will be able to get a new device with everything the way you had it.

Jeff Miller said...


I would be skeptical of calling it the makings of a disaster. One of the things that is being done with app synching is that they are using more of the patch model than the replacement of the whole file. This cuts down on data usage and app data itself is rather small. While not every scenario is failure proof, there should not be any such large disasters.

For example I use Dropbox to sync data on my Mac, iPad, and work PC and I use it extensively and have never had any data problems or file errors. I can't see the iCloud use case as being substantially different than these other forms of data synching.