On “Inflection Point”

My comments for the latest I, Cringely column, Inflection Point (May 12, 2005):

Dear Bob,

I really enjoy reading your “Inflection Point” article, but I question
your interpretation about the computing powers it require.. as I understand the Google FAQ for it, it would seem that the Google servers just act as normal proxy servers, with most of the “smarts” being done by the client, running on the user’s computer. The only difference as far as the server is concerned is being able to send only the changed parts of a page instead of the full page – again, this requires processing on the client-side to update the local cache.

As for interactive formats like Flash, rendering them on the server makes no sense – the idea of a Web Accelerator is to decrease latency, not increase it. Running Flash on a Google server would be akin to, say, running a VNC or Apple Remote Desktop session. The bandwith required to transmit at 15 fps, say, the content of the Flash window, plus the computational overhead of doing the video encoding on the fly, plus the lack of responsiveness experienced by the user as any response entered has to travel to the Google server and back, makes this a non-starter.

Very intriguing analysis on the X-box 360 and Yahoo Music Engine; it is quite interesting to see how Microsoft’s OEMs are going to respond to the X-box. Not to mention Intel! There is something worrying about both Google and Yahoo’s recent software releases, though. Google Desktop and Web Accelerator, and Yahoo Music Engine are all Windows/x86 only. Granted that Google Desktop would make no sense on a Mac, but as a Mac+Linux user I am rather concerned by Yahoo’s push. Especially since Real, which according to your analysis stands to lose quite a bit from Yahoo’s push, is the most Linux-friendly of media software providers. One only hope they could avoid Netscape’s fate – the company they seem to parallel closely (both are at some point
much-criticized for bloat, and then announced open-source initiatives) – since at this point, it still takes a stable corporate presence to push video standards..


Michel Salim

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