Moving towards mobile

>> Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ike Señeres

It could be said that the transition from the mainframe-dumb terminal era went largely unnoticed, as the technology shifted towards the client-server era. It could also be said that the client-server era had a variety of “clients” such as desktops, laptops, notebooks and tablets.
As it is now, the technology has already shifted to cloud computing, but it seems that the transition has also gone unnoticed. Looking at the basics, it could be said that the cloud computing era has two “branches”, namely browser based and apps based.
Defining fine lines of distinction between two technologies may be difficult to do, especially if their appearances are similar and their functionalities are overlapping. As it is supposed to be, browsers would work in personal computer (PC) based environments and even in cellular phone (CP) environments.
In the case of CPs however, there is a need to program the content so that it would be handset responsive. As it is defined, a browser is software that is used to browse websites, meaning that the content resides in the websites and not in the devices used. On the other hand, a mobile app is software that is native to the device, meaning that the content is already mostly embedded into it.
For as long as there are apps versions that could be used to access content, it would be stupid to continue using a browser in a handset to access content, even if the browser is handset responsive.
Actually to some extent, it could be said that the handset somehow functions as a “dumb terminal” that responds to, or interacts with a remote server somewhere. In that sense, this functionality somehow appears to be a revival of the mainframe-dumb terminal era. However, it could also be said that the handset also functions as a “client” that responds to, it interacts with a server somewhere.
Strictly speaking, it could not be said that servers are no longer needed because we have already shifted to cloud computing. What we should say instead is that servers are still needed, but they have now moved to the cloud, even if many servers are still installed and are operating within the premises.
With All these variations and combinations of hardware and software at the backend, what is really more important is the availability of devices at the frontend, regardless of whether these are PC based or CP based.
Hands down, it could already be said that there are more CPs in use than PCs, anywhere and everywhere in the world. Although it could be said that there are still more feature phones out there than smartphones, the numbers are changing everywhere as smartphones are fast catching up. In reality however, this is not really a big issue, because short messaging (SMS) based applications could be programmed in such a way that feature phones could still access content even without using smartphones.
Only a few months ago, I used to say that anyone could access any form of content for as long as there is a signal. Fast forward to today, I do not say that anymore because nowadays, it is already possible to create or deliver a signal everywhere, in other words, there is no more place to run, so to speak.
In reality and not just in theory, it is now possible to create or deliver a signal even to the farthest island or to the highest mountain. In reality, the height or the distance of mountains is now more of an opportunity than a problem, because these heights could now be used to extend the reach of the signals.
Now that the infrastructure side is no longer a problem, the only remaining problem so to speak is the creation and the delivery of content, particularly where there is a social dimension. As I see it, the so-called “digital divide” could now be redefined, so that its meaning would incline towards what we could call a “social divide”.
What that means is the point of division wherein the poor would not be able to have access to signals and to devices. Fortunately, the government is now working towards the availability of free WIFI in public places and that would somehow address the problem of open access.
As it is now, the price of smartphones have gone down to below two thousand pesos, and some second hand units would already cost below one thousand pesos. The other good news is that the government will now be deploying mobile apps that would enable the general public to access many forms of services, using either free WIFI or commercial data plans.
The platform for these mobile apps will be donated by a private company that will earn its revenues from advertising services, just like any social networking site out there. The mobile world is now bigger than ever, and we should now take the necessary steps to make the most of it.
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