INTUITION: The new desktop is going to be an iPad or something based on iOS.
We are yet to see a virus, trojan or malware attack against an iOS device. Of course Apple has been singing the praises of OSX for years on the basis that it has not been attacked or penetrated (true or not). So for a moment just assume that an iOS device is as impenetrable as Steve Jobs would have you believe.
(I’m in my happy place)
So there are a few adjectives that I would use to describe the iOS devices:
The device is secure. It needs to be connected to a PC that has iTunes installed. The iTunes application requires an Apple ID. And somewhere in there is a chain of custody that links the device to the user… by everything short of a DNA scan. And as a application designer I know that each application is sandboxed; meaning that no application can access the data of another app.
Speaking of apps. There are plenty of them. The number of apps is significantly higher than it’s closest rival. There are basically 3 types of apps. Apps that you “buy” from iTunes; those that your enterprise installs; and third, close to the second, apps that you write yourself. Apps can access local data but the current thinking seems to suggest cloud computing is the way to go.
Cloud computing is such as misused word and in much of the same way that people misuse .NET. (this is a topic for another day). Cloud computing has come to mean that the local device is put a proxy for the interaction with the application that is running on remote computer(s). Cloud computing also implies that there is a lot of shared and distributed computing for storage and computing. (google docs is a good example of cloud computing and dropbox is a good example of cloud storage). So it’s not enough to just say “cloud”.
(as of this moment the WWDC keynote is scheduled for tomorrow)
The iPad has some battery life. We are advised that the device should last 10 hours. That’s amazing, however, as a desktop replacement batteries are not really needed, however, it makes dealing with power outages much easier. They are easy to take to meetings, give presentations, airplanes (gotta love those seat backs). In a disaster all you need is a Wifi or 3G which makes traveling and setup so much easier. One of the best mobility features is that all you need is a docking array for all of the devices… then it’s a pick-your-desk when it’s time for you to put on your shift.
I also like the cost because it’s basically inexpensive for what’s inside. All you need is something that is fast enough to render whatever GUI you need and the rest of fluff. It may be slightly underpowered from some complex multitasking and there are some issues like keeping some sessions open (like comet) but overall it’s workable.
And if you lose it or it is stolen it can be taught to phone home and/or self-destructive. Granted this is part of the security model but it’s also part of the bigger enterprise strategy.
These devices are accessible and available everywhere. They are in a majority of countries in the world and they interoperate with Macs and PCs. Because it is a tablet it works for any language although it also you can use a bluetooth keyboard.
iOS is one heck of a platform. I only wish the screen was bigger to replace my desktop completely and that I had an IDE that let me write code. The former is not likely to happen but the latter is on it’s way and should be here soon enough.
PS: but something has to happen to these batteries. One week ago a single charge would last me 24 to 48 hours depending on the usage. But now that I have installed Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn the phone does not last 6 hours.