Is the Google vs Microsoft war about to begin?
A couple of years ago when discussing the direction of technology with a friend who was doing a thesis on a related subject, I told him that I was predicting that eventually computers wouldn't need to have the RAM, HD space, and processing speeds it has now; I said that what we have now is probably plenty and that it should stabilize and possibly even take a couple steps back for those who want more affordable systems.
I also said that complex (large and bulky) operating systems & sofwares like the the Mircrosoft suite wouldn't be needed. That's when he stopped me and laughed and said I was way wrong that there would always be a need for this.
I continued to explain that with the increasing speeds and availability of internet connections and the steps Google were taking, they were planning the same things I was predicting. This was around the same time Google said they were offering the 1GB Gmail accounts. I said that we would see an increase of these storage space offerings by companies over the next couple of years and that this would be an effort to slowly (and somewhat unexpectedly) take control of the storage needs of computer users around the world. This would constitute the first step, which would slowly eliminate the need for big hard drives.
The second step would be a dramatic increase in softwares being "web-based" and all the processing & memory requirements would be handled on the server-side rather than on the computer's side, slowly eliminating the need for mega fast CPUs & large amounts of RAM.
The last and final step, once the companies are handling the storage, processing & RAM needs of computers would be to offer more disk space for other "personal" storage needs and offer a "computer" which would basically be a terminal to connect to the internet directly upon booting, instead of booting to the usual Operating system, you would be essentially booting to the company's servers; which would from then on act as your operating system.
The advantage of doing this would be that these "computers" could be offered extremely cheap or even FREE, think of the monopoly that would happen if a big and increasing percentage of users were using a company's (for example, Google ;) ) system for all their computing needs.
This was also the time that Google was known to be securing leases for space for datacenters & increasing its fiber optic capacity on a very aggressive scale (they are still doing this). Hmmm.. makes ya think :)
I think the next decade will see this pan out further and further and Google's share of the computer market will shift from search tycoon to a more and more dominant force in the computer industry as a WHOLE. Then they will get sued and sued by companies crying out "monopoly"! but that's besides the point :)