Soon, we may all be living and working in the cloud. Analysts from Gartner, a major research firm, predict that by 2014 the cloud will replace the personal computer. It makes sense for the cloud to become our digital center, considering the proliferation of smartphones, iPads and other devices that require interconnectivity to be as effective as possible (or even effective at all).
"Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices," Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. "Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life."
The cloud is already becoming a part of the normal consumer's computing experience: Microsoft and Apple are both weaving cloud capabilities into their new operating systems, and Google is releasing a cloud-centered initiative called Google Play along with some personal cloud storage.
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There are, of course, significant obstacles to cloud-centered computing for all, most notably when it comes to software and application development, but if the market calls for it, it will likely come.
"In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about," Kleynhans said. "Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself."
Personally, the supplementation reminds me of the reimagining of the print medium: it remains a part of media but supplemented by various other media. If things move this quickly or not remains to be seen, but either way, the next few years should be interesting.