Mobile computing has grown by great lengths in the past few years and looks to continue that trend into the future. The mobile market is now filled with smartphones and tablets that are tasked with taking on more and more of our daily computing tasks. For those applications that cannot yet be run on smartphones or tablets, laptops fill the void. These too are evolving to become faster, lighter, and capable of rivaling desktops in performance.
But with all the advancements in portable devices, one major factor that continues to become a hindrance is battery life. Sure, batteries are getting slightly better, but as we begin adding faster processors with multi-cores and high-end graphics cards, the benefits gained in improved battery technology is often lost. Think about it: while computing power and storage space tends to double every couple of years at best, battery life is extended only a few minutes with every new mobile hardware revision. In some cases, it gets worse!
So what’s the solution? In my opinion, the industry needs to abandon the idea of putting faster processors and high-performance graphics cards into our mobile devices. Instead, a cloud approach should be used where all the processing power and graphics rendering is offloaded onto servers that are not reliant on battery power.
With the continuing evolution in wireless networks including WiMAX and LTE, it won’t be long before we can truly have a mobile cloud environment where anything and everything can be virtualized and simply passed onto mobile devices. You can greatly reduce the amount of power that laptops, smartphones and tablets require and therefore see some impressive battery life numbers.
Are we to the point where we can begin building mobile devices that are strictly cloud-based products? Not quite. The wireless infrastructure is not quite there yet. That being said, Google has gotten the virtualization ball rolling with their Chrome OS notebook that just was released to a number of users for testing purposes. The notebook heavily relies on cloud computing applications to perform tasks. With a big player like Google, other hardware/software manufacturers are likely to follow. Then it’s only a matter of time before we start scaling back all of our mobile devices horsepower in favor of extended battery life.