As discussed in my previous blog, “Rich User Experiences” you have already learnt how powerful Web 2.0 and the applications that are built off it are becoming and how they are now reaching far beyond that of our everyday desktop computer; hence the ability to reach target markets has increased dramatically.
In 2010 an astounding five billion devices were connected to the internet an incredible number to reach users and target markets. These 5 billion devices were certainly not limited to your traditional desktops, but including mobile phones, tablets and any number of other devices. Clearly, one version of an application cannot suit all devices due to the variances in the features of devices. Even more amazing was a prediction made by CISCO in 2011;
“By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth, and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita.”There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices in 2016… Exceeding the world’s population at that time (7.3 billion).”
Today I will be discussing the next pattern of Web 2.0 identified by O’Reilly in 2004 “Software Above the Level of a Single Device”. Even those that are unfamiliar with how certain applications work most would agree applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are designed across multiple platforms. In an era of ubiquitous computing, the PC is definitely no longer the one and only device that we use to connect to the internet. Therefore, this has resulted in billions of devices in all shapes and sizes that can be connected to the internet.
So what does this have to do with “Software Above the Level of a Single Device” you ask? The whole idea of this core pattern is that web applications should be tailored to meet the needs of individual devices by focusing on the most important aspects of the service and then customize it to the resources available on the various devices. By doing so the application can create a rich and tailored service that can be used efficiently without the need for a PC.
The benefits of ‘Software Above the Level of a Single Device’ include:
- Opens new markets
- Access to your applications anywhere
- Ability for location and context awareness
One such service that is a perfect example of this pattern is iTunes. iTunes which is a proprietary digital media player application, which is used for organizing and playing music and video files on a Mac or PC, which is then usually added to an iPod, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.
The application works extremely well in seamlessly breaching the gap between handheld device to a massive web back-end, with the PC acting as a local cache and control station. Although iTunes was not the first of this type of service, and there has been many attempts to bring web content to portable devices, iTunes has been by one the most successful and was one of the first such applications designed from the ground up to span multiple devices.
Ultimately iTunes, and other services that expand their applications among many different devices, demonstrate clearly that the PC is no longer the only access device for Internet applications, and ultimately if the application is designed only for a PC then its value is considerably less than those that expand into multiple platforms. In the end the main goal for any designer of a Web 2.0 application should be to produce an efficient and useable application for Internet services across all platforms, and push the limits of the technology.
Brodkin. Jon (2012) Mobile Internet devices will outnumber humans this year, Cisco predicts. Retrieved 20th April from, http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2012/02/mobile-internet-devices-will-outnumber-humans-this-year-cisco-predicts.ars
O’Reilly. Tim (2007) Software Above the Level of a Single Device. Retrieved 20th April from, http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/11/software-above-the-level-of-a.html