Cloud Computing Services + Tablets = the Future

Companies like HP, Apple and Microsoft are starting to push cloud / hardware integration

The notion of everyone carrying around touch-screen controlled tablet computers is a concept that has been explored via the medium of science fiction for decades. Today, tablets are just as common as laptops, but have yet to see them exploited to their fullest potential. Current tablet models, for example, are basically self-contained machines that are fairly powerful which are basically used as internet interfaces. Do people use them for other purposes aside from web browsing? Sure, but it’s pretty clear that these devices were built to surf the web and engage in social media activities. But the real question is what does the future hold in store for these types of devices?

Once you realize that your typical tablet is little more than an ultra-portable touch screen version of a laptop it becomes apparent that the purpose (in terms of design) of these devices is not to increase features, per se. The ideas behind the tablet computer are convenience and simplicity; something that is extremely visual, tactile, powerful and easy to transport. Of course computer hardware is going to continue its upward march toward increasingly powerful processing speeds and capabilities, but there is a more cost-effective alternative to investing millions of dollars in research to produce more powerful tablet computers. Naturally, we’re talking about cloud computing, which could easily replace the need for companies to invest large sums devoted toward improving their products’ hardware.

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As you are probably well aware, cloud computing offers its users access to nearly unlimited amounts of computing power. There’s also direct access to multitudes of applications and SaaS-style services which can be instantly culled up for use. If your average tablet computer were converted to make better use of connectivity with a corresponding cloud network, you would have access to vastly more powerful resources and loads of software (plus unique cloud services as well).

Take your average phone/device and contract/plan for example; often times, these providers will offer customers a free device for one monthly cost including additional services. Maybe you’ll have certain data restrictions or access to different types of web services through your contract, that’s pretty standard. This exact same model (a pay-as-you-go scenario) could easily be applied in exactly the same way to cloud computing services for tablet-like devices. In other words, you might pay a monthly bill which covers all your connectivity, service costs and access to your online storage database / virtualized machine(s).

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Given that companies like Apple, Microsoft and HP are moving toward implementing various types of consumer cloud computing programs and eager to get people set up with subscription services, it only follows logic that more conventional tablet-to-cloud interfaces will eventually be established. HP in particular, is about to announce a new tablet product line which is supposed to be cloud-compatible and angled toward businesses. They’re also promoting a new type of device which sounds an awful lot like a “cloud computer” (it’s touted to be a device that combines networking, computing and storage).

By leveraging the power of the cloud, companies that also produce tablets can potentially save quite a bit in terms of overhead in investment and production. Also, it makes perfect sense to apply cloud technology to devices like tablets which feature limited space for hardware. Since all it really takes to run cloud services on a device is a browser-style OS, tablets would be perfectly suited for this type of setup. But the real reason that we might actually see more dedicated “cloud-powered tablets” emerge (in the coming months and years) is due to economic forces. Simply put, there is a great deal of potential savings inherent in relying on the cloud in lieu of designing and producing new hardware. Likewise, it’s the dream of many big tech companies to get their customer base signed up for various types of subscription services, which is entirely possible through dedicated cloud-ready devices.

We’re actually already starting to see more and more of these institutions pushing cloud products over more traditional hardware and software releases. Microsoft, for example, is heavily promoting their new flagship version of office, which is powered by SkyDrive, MS’s cloud service. Additionally, both Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 are integrating cloud computing into the very fabric of their designs as well. Once again, the idea is to get consumers to acquiesce to the concept of cloud subscriptions at lower costs vs. the higher costs associated with purchase and ownership. Whether or not this will lead to the creation of specific tablet-like devices which make better use of cloud computing in the near future remains to be seen.

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