Thirty-five years ago, Time Magazine gave its iconic Annual 'Of the Year' award, not to a person, but for the first time to a machine. This machine was so important, had become so revolutionary, that today we simply cannot exist without -- the computer. Time Magazine recognised that the profound changes in society around the world were being driven by the impact of the computer and in the early 1980s, personalised computers were in millions of US and other western homes.
Those early generation PCs kicked off a revolution in the worlds of business, research, science, finance, and public services. They opened new worlds, broke down barriers and most importantly, the PC gave birth to an entirely new generation of the entrepreneurs, innovators and technological leaders we have today. This generation, so heavily influenced by the birth of the PC, has ironically helped quicken its 'death' and in some ways its 'rebirth.'
The evolution of power
Look at your smartphone, or your tablet, or your slim lightweight laptop. It's easy to forget where this all came from because the evolution of personalised computing moves at a rapid pace.
Look at this lineage and you'll see there's a clear direction of travel -- with each evolutionary stage, more power arrives more conveniently in the hands of users.
Cloud computing has changed the model. We've grown used to seeing data and applications migrate to the cloud -- in fact it's strange when that service is not offered -- and also to seeing computer servers reside there also. We're accustomed to its reliability, security, and economies of scale. What we haven't yet seen truly tested is all that power, all that storage, all that functionality put to use as a PC.
The PC in the cloud
That's the next stage of the evolution -- the death and rebirth -- of the PC: High end, cloud-powered PCs accessible from any web-enabled device either handheld, laptop, or even Smart TVs. Modern users have high expectations for cloud services but few services have cracked the ability to provide high end power at the back end, and at scale. There needs to be a combining of cloud-based data centres with dedicated CPUs, graphics cards and storage to allow startups, SMEs, designers, creatives and even recreational or professional gamers to pursue their visions without constraints or concerns about location, latency, security, or user experience.
The founders of Blade saw the need for such an evolutionary jump. Through Shadow, the first PC-as-a-service, they see a PC that will never need to be replaced. Shadow is taking high-end cloud-powered PCs to the next level and it's a revolutionary project.
For Blade and for so many innovators in the community, the challenge isn't just about creating the best experience for consumers. It's about how the service redefines the genre, reshapes people's perception of technology, replaces a product and ultimately inspires the next generation of innovators and tech leaders to push the boundaries of what we can do with technology. At some point the pace of innovation will be limited by physical size -- laptops, smartphones, tablets can only get so small. When that point is reached, power has to move to the cloud if its constraints are to be lifted.
My mission with Shadow isn't simply to jump start the spread of the first PC-as-a-service, using state of the art cloud-based solutions, it's about doing something which hasn't been done before -- making high powered computing affordable and accessible around the world. This will fundamentally change how we work and live.
We don't want to kill the PC. We want to evolve beyond it.
Nopporn Suppipat is Member of the Strategic Committee and largest Investor at Blade, the Paris-based developer of Shadow.