Edinburgh-based Charlie Stross has an interesting and, to my way of thinking, compelling theory about Apple's strategy for the future of personal computing in a post somewhat misleadingly titled, The real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash. Jobs recently posted an open letter called Thoughts on Flash that inspired this theory. His notion, unfairly abridged, is that in a world where desktop computers are becoming commoditized and where wireless broadband is disrupting the wired variety, the momentum belongs to mobile wireless devices that operate in the cloud. The business end of this for Apple is controlling apps and other content that these mobile devices require.
As I was reading it, I was reflecting on how my own computing is changing. Yes, I still prefer a keyboard for composition, but the three biggest improvements in my use of information in the past year have been Evernote, Pandora, Dropbox and a Mobiata iPhone/Android app called FlightTrack Pro. All these apps store my information somewhere in the cloud (don't care where). The first three operate on all or most of the (too many) platforms for which I have devices. If I want to call up meeting notes or a web write-up, I use Evernote from one of my computers, my BlackBerry (w0rk) or my iPhone (personal). If I want to listen to music, I use Pandora, again from a variety of devices, including my TV via Roku (can't remember the last time I used my iPod or listened to music on my iPhone). If I need to pass files among these many devices, Dropbox does a great job (too bad I can't pass files to an editing or spreadsheet app on the iPad). FlightTrack is probably self-explanatory, but it's great for tracking my own travel and that of relatives.
I just finished a two week loan of an iPad and told the next recipient that I probably wouldn't be buying it, in part, because I need to create and move work files better than the iPad can handle, but if Stross is correct, that's likely to be only temporary. Evernote already has a brilliant app on the iPad -- nearly enough to make me want to get the machine. So, Macs and PCs, may be that you're just not that special any more.
Thanks to Stephen Hill for the tip.
Update 6 May 2010:
Walter Mossberg has a good explanation of cloud computing in his Wall Street Journal column today. --Dennis