This post was written by Guest Blogger Jessica Wagner.

Browse any user-written netbook reviews or amateur smartphone critiques and at the forefront of the conversation is whether or not a worthy connection can be made in enough places for Facebook and other social networking sites to be accessed.  Nobody really cares about whether or not the netbook comes equipped with a barebones word processor or photo editor, as much as reviewers try and make these the selling points.  With the introduction of iCloud from Apple and the anticipation for what awaits us with the Chromebook’s utilization of a strictly cloudy means of accessing programs and services, there’s growing concern spreading across the Internet over the fate of cloud computing, which has been an ideal network for years but never properly implemented.  If more and more people are losing interest in the particulars of software in favor of assured online access and ways to use similar tools via a network and without expensive hardware and software, we might seriously be seeing the start of a major shift in computer science.

Consider how the companies in question are reacting to the growing interest in cloud computing relative to what they stand to gain from it.  Over at Apple they’ve obviously decided to market their cloud technology as a means to connect the sophisticated devices clouding is supposed to eradicate, because they have a big interest in keeping people buying thousand dollar computers.  Google, on the other hand, is the biggest innovator of cloud computing to-date with the ambitions to back it up.  They don’t have much to lose from popularizing low-cost barebones laptops meant for a cloud network, but they have a lot to gain.  Meanwhile Microsoft sits back and observes the underlings duke it out, ready to beat or to join whoever it finally realizes has the right idea.

But allow me to return to social networks.  People are already more than happy to embrace the idea of belonging to and contributing reams of private information toward remote networks.  Once there was a time when you could argue that the fear of surrendering precious data and work over to a remote site or network was increasing the risk of security breach and there was comfort in keeping all of your precious files on a single terminal.  These days however we’re seeing more and more incentive to at least back up your data remotely.  Before long people won’t have a problem having everything they do occur via a network.  All it’s going to take is a stripped-down netbook a ‘la Chromebook to drop in price to say…$200, for legions to start making the switch.

Then the giant computer hardware and software manufacturers might start to worry.  In the meantime they’ll just try and convince us cloud computing is a bad idea and that we still need pricey terabytes-worth of memory on our laptops and enough power to operate a dozen on-site programs at once.  When the day comes when Facebook, Youtube, a word processor, spreadsheets, news, weather, games, and gadgets can all run simultaneously on a cheap netbook running everything online, good luck trying to convince the public that’s not a bargain.

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