Uninspired by Wired

The April issue has an article entitled “Desktop R.I.P.” that enthuses breathlessly about “computing moving off your machine and into the cloud”.  I talked to the reporter, Jason Tanz, for this article a couple months ago (real-time Wired isn’t).  Tanz, whose byline suggests his most eminent qualification to do the story was writing a book about Hip-Hop in White America, ignored what I had to say (hardly the first such occasion).  After all, why let pesky details get in the way of an absolutist premise.  But it helps if the examples you muster for your case actually support your argument.

Salesforce.com is cited as an obvious poster child.  Yet Salesforce has performed a complete u-turn from the article’s premise and has quietly rolled out Salesforce.com Offline Edition, a Windows client for their service.  I assume they are quiet about it because they don’t want to have to change their “1-800 No Software” phone number, yet they can’t be competitive in sales force automation without enabling people to work on airplanes, in customer lobbies or if the service goes down.

The article also says the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet is “challenging the primacy of the desktop”.  There are lots of cool new devices out there but to suggest this one is leading the charge makes one wonder if the reporter’s next book is about Hip-Hop in Finland.  The reviews have been terrible (the device, not the book).

But the most egregious foul comes in the big finale:

“Sites like wesabe.com offer a glimpse of the future.  What if online services could see the trail of breadcrumbs people leave behind them on the Web?  Privacy concerns aren’t likely to trump the ample benefits.”

Ironically, wesabe.com uses desktop software specifically to avoid the privacy and security risks of sucking your most sensitive data into the cloud.  And they’re appropriately quite righteous about it.

The reality is the desktop is moving into the cloud and the cloud is moving onto the desktop.  The winners will bring together the unique capabilities of both.  The losers will cling dogmatically to one or the other.