For the Future of Digital, Get Your Head in the Cloud

Steve Rubel on Digital Communications

By Published on .

One of the biggest trends shaping technology is cloud computing. Consumers and businesses are moving more of their data off computers and into rich internet applications available everywhere, such as Yahoo Mail, Google Docs, Salesforce.com and Mint.com.

While geeks have been gushing about web-based software for years, average consumers have been slower to adopt it. That said, given the huge popularity of web e-mail, it's only a matter of time before they use the web for more complex tasks. Here are three ramifications to watch.

Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.

LESS IS MORE

Your next computer could be a sub-$500 netbook -- a light, low-powered laptop with a small screen that relies on the internet for most tasks. According to Google Trends, netbook searches are up four times this year, and IDC sees sales topping 9 million in 2012. As netbooks rise, thin will be in. These computers are low-powered by design, and the consumers who use them will eschew complicated, 3-D or processor-intense experiences in favor of interfaces that are easy and formatted for a 10-inch screen.

WEB-APP ADS

Many online applications are free. Others, such as mapping tool MindMeister, operate under a freemium model, where the basics are free but advanced features cost a premium. Most so far are devoid of ads.

Web e-mail has displayed ads since its earliest days. Others such as IMeebo, a universal IM service, are taking this a step further by creating immersive brand experiences. That's just the beginning. The rise of web apps will unleash innovation. Online photo editors such as Picnik could serve ads for how-to photography books to consumers who spend an extensive amount of time tinkering.

MOBILE FIRST, NOT LAST

Too often mobile is an afterthought rather than a focal point. Some executives I know leave their laptops at home when traveling on business since their smart-phones carry the load. In 10 years this will be the norm, as mobile devices, powered by cloud computing, wirelessly connect to keyboards, mice and monitors and offer as rich an experience as today's computers do. This trend toward one device that does it all will be a catalyst for mobile marketing.
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