Bandwidth availability holds back software advances
In 1965, Intel
co-founder Gordon Moore famously predicted that the number of transistors on a chip would double every two years. Now known as Moore's Law, this theory is usually interpreted to mean that the processing power of a computer doubles every 24 months, with cost remaining constant.
Of course, this prediction is famous because history has proven it to be true. Raw computing power has increased as Moore forecasted.
In the past few years, however, the pace of innovation hasn't kept up with processing power. Today, we still use the same types of applications that we did a decade ago: word processing, spreadsheets, database management, presentation development, financial tracking, e-mail and Web browsing chief among those.
Furthermore, we use them in the same manner - that is, we load software onto our computers and the processing is done "on the desktop."
Why haven't things changed?
One of the biggest factors is bandwidth - specifically, Internet bandwidth.
This may seem counterintuitive. After all, broadband Internet has proliferated across the country. Hawaii people are at or near the top of the list when it comes to high-speed internet usage, at least on a per capita basis. Nowadays we have video, music, high-resolution images and other technologies unheard of when Al Gore invented the Internet. But the fact of the matter is that the current overall bandwidth provided by the Internet as a whole is still not enough to support advanced applications.
The good news is that Internet bandwidth is increasing. Unfortunately, no one has been as prophetic as Moore when it comes to bandwidth, and the increase hasn't been steady enough to accurately measure. Nevertheless, we expect the pipes to get bigger and bigger as time goes by.
What does this mean? First and foremost, more bandwidth will usher in new types of software, specifically Web-based applications that require very little software on your computer. All you'll need is a browser. Currently, Web-based applications exist, but are constrained by bandwidth.
What's the benefit to a Web-based application? It precludes the need to install hotfixes, patches, or other updates, as new features are added immediately. Your files are accessible by you (or anyone you designate) anytime, anywhere, and changes are visible immediately.
Popular choices for Web-based software include Google Docs, ThinkFree Online and Zoho Office. All of these are free. None of these are as functional as Microsoft Office or even OpenOffice, but we expect improvements as the Internet pipes get bigger.
John Agsalud is president of ISDI Technologies Inc. of Honolulu. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.