The Future of Mobile Business Web Apps
Two seemingly unrelated blog posts on zdnet.com both point to an interesting future direction for mobile business web apps.
The first post discusses the possibility of Windows becoming free software (it already is for devices under 9") and the second proposes that the brand of a mobile device is becoming irrelevant to mobile business software and web apps.
Quotes from each blog illuminates the future of mobile business web apps.
1. "... a funny thing is happening on the mobility front when it comes to real mobile business: The actual device is becoming irrelevant."
2. "Microsoft has remained quiet on what its plans for Windows pricing in future, but did make it free for users to upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 and we know the upgrade from 8 to 10 will be free, but will this continue?"
A lot can be learned from computing history about the future of mobile business web apps.
In the early 1970's, proprietary mainframe computer operating systems dominated the computing world.
At that time IBM lead the market, hotly followed by the "bunch" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data and Honeywell).
These companies fought tooth and nail for lucrative business contracts with government agencies, banks, insurance companies and large manufacturers.
Today's world of mobile business and web apps
Similarly, in today’s mobile business web apps world, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Blackberry are their modern day equivalents.
Ignoring the 40 year time difference, machine sizes and cost differences, the parallels are amazingly similar.
With reference to the 1st post, forty years ago computer manufacturers differentiated their hardware with typical feature/function/performance marketing hype plus applications that operated only on their proprietary operating systems.
Just as the "bunch" eventually exited the mainframe computer market leaving most of the spoils to IBM, so too is history being repeated but in a slightly different way.
Just as proprietary operating systems proved to be an unsustainable differentiator in the past, so too will this prove to be the case for today's Apple, Microsoft, Google and Blackberry OS's.
Today's mobile computing hardware manufacturers may not exit entirely but irrespective of who stays or goes, with the ever increasing popularity of cloud computing and BYOD strategies, the actual device and it's OS are indeed becoming irrelevant.
To the 2nd post, Google has definitely lead the charge on free software and the days of paying hefty license fees for software on a CD are well and truly over.
With a new CEO at the helm, Microsoft has gone back to its roots as a maker of software that runs everywhere. However, the market has shifted in-terms of what "everywhere" means, plus a shift in emphasis towards mobile business web applications.
Microsoft Windows no longer dominates the devices market and in response Microsoft has released more and more software for devices other than Macs and PCs.
They have also recognized that the next front-line in the computing wars is in the cloud where lucrative mobile business and web apps and vendor services revenues lie.
This will inevitably erode Microsoft's long held strength in its Windows franchise to the point where in order to remain competitive Microsoft will be forced to move the price of its proprietary OS to zero.
And to quote the immortal words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
It is uncertain who will become the modern day equivalent of IBM in the golden days of proprietary mainframe and mini systems. However, what is certain is that massive disruptions lie ahead with all indicators pointing to diminishing returns from proprietary operating systems and an increasing popularity of device agnostic mobile business apps and web apps that empowers end users and business alike.