C.K. Sample III, vice president of product development for Crowd Fusion, which makes a Web-based publishing platform hosted entirely in the cloud, brought up an interesting point in the wake of Apple's iPad 2 unveiling March 2.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs claimed that the iPad 2 was the company's third, post-PC blockbuster:
"Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive. The hardware and software need to intertwine more than they do on a PC."
Few would argue Apple didn't nail the tablet form factor, software and application ecosystem. Sample's gripe is that these post-PC products still rely heavily on the PC for actibations and software updates, backing up data and document transfer and syncing:
"As much as they are these highly functional, magical devices that you can carry anywhere and do nearly anything with, at the end of the day, they all need to be connected to a fully functional PC."
Specifically, Sample noted that onthe iPad and iPhone, users must know what you've purchased in the past, find it in the App Store, and then re-download apps they downloaded to their Mac computer.
By contrast, he bought a Motorola Xoom and did on that "Honeycomb" tablet what he could not do on his iPhone or iPad, entering his Google Apps accounts via the setup screen to find that all of his e-mail and data from those accounts began syncing to the device:
"I was up and running and being effective in less than 10 minutes. Then I launched Android Market. All the apps that I had previously purchased on my Samsung Galaxy Tab and that were connected to my Google Apps account, were there ready to be downloaded and installed. I selected all and began installing them."
Sample touched on something I've noticed in every Verizon Wireless Droid, Samsung Galaxy S handset or HTC gadget I've tested since November 2009: you can enter your Google Account password and the devices suck in Gmail, Google Latitude and apps you've downloaded from the Android Market within seconds.
This is Google's mobile cloud computing strategy at work, and we see it not only in Android devices, but iwith Google's Chrome Web browser sync features.
So if I download an app from the Chrome Web Store on my Cr-48 Chrome notebook it shows up in the Chrome instantiation of my work laptop. Sample concluded:
"Apple, cut the cords now. Make these changes. If you don't, I fear that Google is going to eat your post-PC market just like Microsoft did back in the day when you were the first innovators with the personal computer."
Apple isn't there yet, but it will be and it will usher in a whole new era of competition in music, gaming and other apps. That will seriously threaten Google's nascent little cloud hegemony, as far as it permeates mobile through the vast, endless Android ecosystem.
I'm taking a front-row seat to this tech version of the Rumble in the Jungle.