I’ve written about OnLive desktop before; the iPad app that gives you Windows and, most importantly, Microsoft Office on your iPad (for free). Yesterday, OnLive launched a paid version that added Internet Explorer and with it Flash to their platform. In the process, that gave users a 1Gbps connection to the Internet right on an iPad. How? Well, it isn’t really a 1Gbps connection all the way to the user. Instead, that is the connection between the computer part of the PC and the Internet. The connection between you and the computer itself is still limited by your own broadband connection. Here is David Pogue’s review of the experience.
Now most other cloud services have focussed on moving storage to the cloud. There is, of course, plenty of apps that move computational power to the cloud as well. But OnLive, it seems to me, takes this further than anyone else. If you can imagine your computer as a CPU + Memory (etc) linked to storage linked to an output device (monitor and speakers) and to input devices (touch, keyboard, mouse etc), OnLive have moved everything but the output and input devices to the cloud. This splaying of your computer across the world involves trading off bottlenecks (i.e., losing the fast connection between your monitor and the CPU/Graphics card in return for the connection between your computer and the Internet). But what is interesting is that it may be the right trade-off. Certainly all of the trend seems to be towards splaying rather than consolidating hardware computing resources. This will be an interesting trend to watch.