cloud streets Is this the beginning of the end for laptops?The world is changing. A phrase I’ve heard a lot over the last few years, but it’s changing more rapidly than ever.

Ten years ago, a limited few people had heavy, barely portable, laptops. 5 years ago only, the weight had come down, but only the most mobile of people had a laptop due to their expense. Two years ago, laptops were as common as muck (even with people tied to their desks). However is that all changing again?

Last week was a bit of a breakthrough moment with myself and my colleague. Being in a technology organisation, laptops are normally the norm in meetings and given that we were meeting up at a neutral venue, it would normally be obligatory.

Not so.

We simply looked to the cloud and prayed. Ok, so we didn’t pray, but knowing that both of us were going to be leaving the meeting and going to separate evenings out, with potentially taxis, drink and late nights – the last thing we wanted to risk were our laptops. And the last thing we wanted to be lugging around was our laptops too.

So we located a decent location with a computer (a hotel lobby) and spent a day discussing plans, courses of action and activity as well as creating all manner of documents using our own product. Given I’d come over from France to meet my colleague this was potentially a risky strategy.

However it paid off. Not only were we able to collaborate with each other verbally and in person, we were able to update documents, edit documents (even though the computer in question didn’t have Office installed), reply to our customers and colleagues who were having discussions back in the office.

It was quite an eye opener to how much we rely on computers, but ultimately using the technology provided through the cloud, we can actually do things as usual without having the burden of laptops.

When you combine this with the risk of losing or having a laptop stolen, maybe misplacing your USB device (or CD if you’re in a government agency) suddenly technology is working for us again. Security is obviously critical on any public computer, but have that and suddenly you are freer and more mobile than ever.

What next for laptops?

I genuinely don’t believe the end is nigh just yet. We still need these devices to be available wherever we are, but in the future they could be just dumb, cheap terminals with an internet access (a la Google OS), so that even if they are lost, broken or stolen it won’t affect your work.

And while screen size could be an issue for any significant advancement, the age of being mobile is taking another twist and making life even easier still.

Would I recommend what we did?

Absolutely. Last week was great. No messing around with wireless keys, no paying for an unreliable wireless access and no lugging around of technology, wondering if I’ll leave it in the next bar. It was a day that two people came together, worked, played and achieved results – without carrying a block around with us.

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