Thought for the day: Hail the Gmail revolution!

Gmail could strike a blow for thin-client computing, says Simon Moores

Simon Moores  

A Gmail account is now a precious commodity, but one day everyone will have one, and all employers will have to do is to supply the thin client, says Simon Moores.

 

 

 

So far, I’ve been offered someone’s "second virginity", another person’s soul (used) and a collection of Punjabi MP3 tracks, to name but a few. There’s even an offer of a cloned sheep but I think the postage may be a little high.

I’m referring to Google’s new Gmail service or, more accurately, to Gmail Swap, a website for those who are desperate enough to offer, well, just about anything for a Gmail account.

Because I was an early weblogger on Blogger.Com, now part of the expanding Google Empire, I’ve been given one of their new Gmail accounts, the "G" prefix doing double duty for gigabyte, which is the size of the free storage available to subscribers.

In principle, Gmail, a web-based mail service, is rather like Hotmail but with extra tweaks, indexing features and targeted advertising thrown in. The attraction is the huge amount of mail storage, which makes it unlikely that most people will run out of space, in this lifetime at least.

Mail is, for most of us, the most mission-critical application we have after the coffee machine, and Google has moved the goal posts in such a way that we now have to start thinking where applications and data should sit in a broadband society.

Being among the first to be invited to try the system, I found myself in dilemma. Should I choose my own name, simon.moores, or my company name, Zentelligence? I settled for the latter and so now I’m going to start asking people to cc e-mail to my Gmail account, where I can access it from anywhere and, potentially, for ever, or at least as long as Google lasts.

Like the Apple iPod, Gmail has become a trendy, must-have accessory for the gizmo-stylish who are feeling left out because Google has restricted the number of invitations it has sent out for the system as it tests and scales up its offering.

As a consequence, a healthy "grey market" has appeared on the web for trading in Gmail accounts. One has to wonder, however, whether the system will be able to cope with the storage demands that will appear in future or, perhaps, Google is betting that the availability of cheap storage technology will always stay ahead of user demand.

The emergence of Gmail also raises a second argument for tomorrow’s business. In a future where technology is, increasingly, cheap and commoditised, with most of the white-collar workforce owning their own PCs and even personal music players and PDAs able to carry a gigabyte of digital storage, why should companies be expected to invest so much in their own IT?

Should tomorrow’s business mandate that employees own their own cars, mobile phone, televisions and technology? Next-generation businesses may use a thin-client model of access to protect confidentiality while everything else flows freely in and out of the employee's own Gmail type accounts and various computing devices.

This is an argument and an evolution of hot-desking that’s starting to attract serious attention from those who insist that business needs to find a means of stepping off the present technology curve and onto a new one, which serves the needs of business instead of serving the interests of technology companies.

Meanwhile, I’ll try and decide whether I should swap my new Gmail account for something more exotic, perhaps not those Punjabi MP3 tracks. I’m not sure about a second virginity, either.

Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.

Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of e-government and information security .

For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com

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