Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Chromebooks, iPads, and Access to Everything, Everywhere

By Dennis D. McDonald

Google’s announcement of its Chromebook signifies more than just a continued “movement to the cloud.” It’s more evidence that people are steadily moving away from concerns about the physical locations of their data. Expectations continue to grow that data — and the functionality and processes the data support — should be accessible anywhere and anytime.

That’s not proving an easy shift to make. Business models built around physical media being authorized to support certain types of media (such as commercial video and music) still haven’t adjusted to the buy-once-use-anywhere model. Location- and license-based access control continue to complicate matters for users. Anyone who tries to make sense of how to access TV programming via an Internet connection knows this. Plus, security and privacy concerns still restrict (often justifiably) the flow of data across physical and organizational boundaries.

That will always remain true as long as control over “us” versus “them” distinctions retains some meaning and someone needs to be excluded from doing something someone else controls. What’s also significant in this environment is the success of the iPad and its packaging of complex functionality in a pleasing and easy to use platform. New users aren’t just coming to it; current computer users are also using it instead of “real computers” because it’s powerful and easy to use.

The growing popularity of products like the iPad is raising expectations about where and when people can access and use their data. Accordingly, as more people hit a roadblock on a license-controlled item on one platform they already “own” when trying to access it from another platform, more people will justifiably ask “Why can’t I do that?” Industry will need to respond with more than just a stiff “You need to read the fine print of your click-through license agreement” explanation. The walls will need to become more permeable and products like Chromebook and iPad are pointing the way. Companies that move quickly to adjust to this new “Access to Everything, Everywhere” world will be the winners — and survivors.

Text copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald

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