A Cloud OS Thought Experiment

Posted on 23. Apr, 2011 by in Features

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Companies like Microsoft and Apple have followed the model that you need to sell software/hardware to make money, but that’s not the only way: you don’t need to actually sell software to make tons of money. An alternative model exists. The model is simple: provide a quality service for free and sell targeted, but unobtrusive ads, and you are in business.


The model is good, its potential is perhaps limitless, but of course not so simple in its execution.

Google has been the most successful with this ad model by far and they continue to hone it down to a science. The company has gradually expanded its services and the infrastructure. With Chrome, its services come together as a unified whole, a cloud based operating system that guarantees a high level of use. With a Google account, you can already have your Android or future Chrome OS device synced with all your Google services all without a single cable. The more the user uses your services, the more valuable your ad space, the more revenue you get, and the user pays very little.

Another Internet behemoths is Facebook, with over 500 million users.

What if Facebook wanted to get into a piece of the cloud OS action? What if Facebook were to offer a cloud operating system to their users? This is purely a thought experiment, but suppose Facebook and Jolicloud decided to synergize on a cloud platform, each bringing their resources and expertise to the table thus resulting in a cloud os based on the growing “social” premise that is the rage right now.

Let’s see what both could bring to the table. Facebook is working on a more powerful messaging features, which would, at some level at least, attempt to compete with Gmail and Google Talk. Jolicloud already has social features like “sharing” and “following” that could be made even more powerful if they integrated with Facebook, encouraging others to adopt this hybrid OS as well. Jolicloud has announced plans to offer Jolicloud OS on Android and iPad. You can already access your personal Joli OS desktop on any desktop via Chrome and the Jolicloud app. With the Jolicloud mobile app, you will be able to access your Jolicloud desktop on all your devices. Not only that, if you already have a Facebook account, which is pretty likely, you can log into your Jolicloud desktop thanks to the Facebook Connect button. Right now. No sign up required.

This begs the question, which is a better premise for your cloud OS: one that is based on “organizing the world’s information” (Google) or a “social network” (Facebook)?


After some reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that a cloud operating system based on the social aspect of the Internet just wouldn’t work as well as one based on search. As wonderful as it is to share things with my friends and family on the Internet, and as powerful as a method is for advertisers connect with those that might find their products useful, to base a cloud platform on a social network premise would be bad tech Feng shui.

For me, it comes down to this: would I switch the “Search” button on my Cr-48 with a “Status” button or a “Share” button or perhaps a “Feed” button?

I don’t think so.

There is some speculation that the best days of Google are over, and even in the new book “In The Plex“, by Steven Levy, I detected a bit of wistfulness regarding Google, that somehow it’s needing to play catch-up with regards to social networking, that it is no longer such a source of innovation. Maybe developing a cloud based thin client OS isn’t as sexy as, well, typing on glass (*cough* iPad) for example but let’s not forget Chrome OS proposes a more fundamental paradigm shift in computing itself, and that to me is, well … sexy.

With all the emphasis the tech world places on innovation, it is easy to lose perspective. Just because something is new doesn’t necessarily mean it is innovative. Remember Google’s April Fool’s joke “Gmail Motion”?

It’s not that it can’t be done, as ICT MxR Lab – with some snark – demonstrated.

But seriously: is this the preferred way to write an e-mail?

Technology, to retain its utility, needs to be useful. It isn’t just about getting people to click on an ad or want that awesome new gadget. It’s also about finding and developing the right tool for the job. Social just doesn’t seem as good of a utility as search, at least in its present form.

Do you think the ideal computer environment should revolve around social, or search? Or maybe something else?

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Related posts:

  1. The Chromebook as a Thought Experiment
  2. Google Worried About Facebook? Big Deal, Since Facebook Can’t Compete
  3. Thousands of Jolicloud App Users May Have a Point

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4 Responses to “A Cloud OS Thought Experiment”

  1. PaKo

    23. Apr, 2011

    It looks like a really interesting system, but still there’s a problem about the movement and sign the users have to do. It will be nice to use the dumb sing language, that way we could give it a new use. Greetings from Panama

  2. Julian West

    23. Apr, 2011

    Very interesting idea PaKo…Like Google Translate, but for sign language. Useful indeed.

  3. Daniel Chenery

    24. Apr, 2011

    I’ve always said and thought to myself that although Facebook is a strong competitor Google will win.
    Why? Because Facebook is ONLY in the social market, should that market die down, or something bigger and better take over (like what happened with MySpace) Facebook has lost.
    Whereas Google have multiple markets, search, social, web browsers, advertisements, mail… Need I go on?
    So, should Facebook develop a Cloud OS, I don’t think it would last

  4. Julian West

    24. Apr, 2011

    I agree Daniel. Google is a uniquely organic company. Those multiple markets serve it well and give it a great deal of flexibility and opportunity for growth.

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