There was once a time in the late 1990s when Sun attempted to introduce netbooks, under the banner - 'the network is the computer'. It was a novel idea that was way ahead of the times. Now companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple have taken on the mantle of attacking this problem. In contrast to Sun's prior sole effort to solve this problem, there is now an arms race to solve the problem. Competition has almost ensured that we're going to see this problem cracked. TechCrunch highlights the different approaches that competition has produced, as each company attempts to outsmart the other:
Google's approach has been to make the cloud more accessible to existing PC users. They’re doing this by extending familiar concepts. Google Docs is Microsoft Office, but in the cloud. Your main point of interaction is a file system, but in the cloud. Gmail is Outlook, but in the cloud. Etc.
Meanwhile, another company now largely associated with the cloud, Amazon, has essentially turned it into one giant server/hard drive that anyone can use for a fee. But it takes developers to build something on top of it to give users a product to use. Some are great. But many again just extend the idea of the cloud as a remote hard drive.
While the fundamentals are the same, Apple's approach to the concept of the cloud is the opposite of their competitors. Apple’s belief is clearly that users will not and should not care how the cloud actually works. [...] You're working on a document in Pages on your iPad, you move over to Pages on your Mac, and there it is. It even remembers where you were last editing. You download a song to your iPhone, you pick up your iPad, there it is. It all just works.