The case for comprehensive mobile computing & PC app stores

After my first day here at the Sprint Open Solutions Developer Conference in Santa Clara, and 5 hours of booth duty behind me(whew), I'm getting a strong feeling that the idea of a PC app store is becoming more intuitive with increasing ethusiasm for the PC.

At the Sprint booth, Rhonda and I are showing a variety of Dell notebooks, all 4G enabled and sold thru Sprint.   An always connected PC unshackled from WiFi hot spots, is definately intriguing and helps make the case for a PC app store.  Below are some of the things developers have been talking about with us at the conference.

The case for PC app stores

The PC is a core device:  In emerging markets we know the phone is the primary internet device for people, however when looking at a second device, more often that choice is low cost PC, like a netbook, to allow a level of productivity computing.  In established markets like the US, we've seen a huge increase in the number of devices people are using.  Each device for another function, however when it comes to computing the PC is the hub, and more often people want that to be the hub of their mobile experience as well

Consumers like app stores - And we're not going back;-)  Why expect anything less for a PC 

  • One account and credit card needed: No longer do you need to hand your credit card out to another website to download an app.  An app store provides a single account to download all the apps for your device 
  • I can trust the app:  Apps from stores are tested for the device
  • One method of install:  App stores provide seamless silent installers. No longer do you need to figure out, "do I really need to change the directory to install this", or "why is it asking me what features I want to install, shouldn't it know"

Developers like app stores
Developers no longer need to research, find and establish a billing and distribution system for their apps. App stores allow developers to focus their business on developing apps

Mobile creativity & productivity app experiences wanted:
Another effect of smartphones and tablets has been the introduction of amazing app experiences while on the road.  You can take and share photos in an instance, you can find people, places in context to what you are doing and where you are.  And if you don't have an app, you can get it in minutes if not seconds.  It's now part of our expectation and entrenched in our lifestyle. And with this we hunger for productive computing to be enabled the same way.

How we get there

So the question then remains, what is needed to get us there.  Here are my thoughts

The PC needs to be mobile convenient:  
Instant on, light as a feather, and should allow me to do my days work without needing recharge.  Looking at Ultrabooks and the roadmap from Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell, it looks like we are well on our way there

The PC needs to be connected:  
WiMax and LTE enabled PCs are needed, Sprint seems to have this covered already, and if they are successful we can consider Ultrabooks to be another mobile device sold thru carriers 

PC app stores need great mobile productivity/creativity apps:
Just as with the iPhone we saw apps evolve change and become richer than we could have imagined.  In the same way we need to rethink creativity and productivity apps.  When you have a PC on the road with you, and its as convenient to turn on and work with as a tablet, there is more that is possible.  We need to rethink apps that do video & photo editing, blogging, and even gaming. 

To fully realize a comprehensive mobile computing experience, we can't have those situations where, I can't do something because the software or data I need is not on the PC I have with me. Integration of the cloud services with apps to get access to data or even access to app features will need to be realized.


Final thoughts

We need to rethink PC apps for true mobile experiences.  I can only start to imagine how an app like Photoshop could be reimagined to provide the level of power and capabilities it has today while considering mobile use cases.  Blogging is an area that needs massive improvement and to grow up and allow authors to more easily and conveniently integrate media and syndicate thru social networks. Gaming could be radically evoved to provide mobile game hub services with friends who using various mobile devices. Cooperative, interoperable gaming between devices could create some amazing experiences.

I'm of the mind to think a comprehensive mobile computing experience is just staring to evolve, and part of that evolution is rethinking some of our assumptions about the PC and PC app distribution. Here at the Sprint conference I'm seeing more and more of this new thinking as developers recognize a broader interconnected mobile experience beyond phone and tablet, inclusive of PCs and a PC app store.  

Personally I don't think this is a vacuum or bubble of thought.  All of us who are now using mobile devices intuitively understand there is a gap. We know those moments when we hit a wall, have to stop or realize, "I can't do this here", or "I need to do this back at the office."  Full PC computing, anytime, anywhere is still elusive.  I have believe, the idea that you need to go back to the office or go home to complete a computing task, will someday, be as foreign as needing an Ethernet cable or phone booth.

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