Are we too thick to live with thin clients?

I am no computing expert but I can’t help noticing how the technology industry just cannot seem to make up its mind between thick and thin clients. 

If I were to start with the mainframe era (just because I am too young to know what predated it!), it espoused the view that the real meat should reside in those big boxes in the basement while the clients should be confined to a dumb enviously green existence.

Then came this apparent revolution towards client / server technology which gave more credit to the poor terminals. UIs suddenly became quite rich not just in look and feel but in stealing a march on business intelligence as well. Ironically, they were called thick clients just as they upped their IQ!

However, the smart client dream came to a screeching halt with the advent of web-based technology that heralded the era of “server-side” computing as if it were a fundamentally new paradigm. UIs became thin again overnight as if someone stuck a hoover on their backs and sucked out their brains and brawn. Although mostly a losing battle, the UI camp hired a few lobbyists in the form of Adobe and a few others who tried their best to wrest back control into the UI with some limited success.

What goes around does come around in technology! The whole smartphone and app store craze has now brought the spotlight back to the thick clients. They are just called by a new name, apps. It’s not all over though. There are many others who are trying to “cloud” this phenomenon by moving back the heavy duty stuff to big boxes all over again!! So while RIM thinks you don’t need an app to browse the internet, Apple emphasizes even a browser is just another app.

Not sure about the clients, but we are just too thick to make up our minds…


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