As I am always reading, today I saw this post at the Citrix Community Blogs regarding the Citrix Receiver for the iPhone. As you can see over there I made some comments and the guys at Citrix replied.
My main question regarding this post is, does the iPhone really matter in this context? Is it a game changer device that will help the adoption of Server Centric solutions (VDI or TS, does not matter)?
I ask because as of today, several Windows Mobile phones not only have video outputs (so you can hook them up to a monitor/Projector/TV) but also have support for Bluetooth keyboards, features that are NOT supported (at least officially AND using the SDK available to us, simple mortals) on the iPhone.
So today, if you want to, you can go out and buy a phone that you can hook up to a monitor and using a small, foldable Bluetooth keyboard, use it as a thin client (an RDP client is indeed available for Windows Mobile; I am sure that is the case for VNC, LogMeIn and as per the post I mentioned above, a Citrix Receiver for Windows Mobile will be out soon). As far as I know that did not really cause a huge commotion on the market. Plus to be honest, I do not know anyone actually doing this. And finally, yes, I think it is somehow a little cumbersome…
If we expand on that idea, you could simply go out and buy something like the RedFly from Celio, that is basically a netbook type device that connects to your Windows Mobile (and other phones like BlackBerries) and gives you a 7″ or 8″ screen and a reasonably sized keyboard. Same as the failed Palm Foleo if you remember that. That would be a killer solution I think, ONLY if the price was in the $50 to $99 range. At $199 (starts at that), you are now in Netbook territory. So if I will be carrying an extra device, why would I go for the RedFly? Yes, I know it is hard to justify…
Back to the iPhone, if all the above is available today, why the iPhone is seen as the ‘Jesus Phone’ (love that term, coined at Gizmodo!) for accessing Citrix?
Not sure to be honest. I do think the iPhone is a great device but to become a really useful thin client, a lot more is needed. The small form factor is indeed great for quickly accessing your servers and doing something… quickly. But for long term use, the form factor does not help at all. And for quick access I can do the same from Windows Mobile or even from the CrapBerry (yes, I do think it is crap. But that I will save for another post).
The netbook like form factor I do think is the way to go but carrying another device is not really a solution. If hotels were willing to rent devices like the RedFly out for $5 a day, THEN I see the potential, big time. They would have these paid off in a couple weeks and would provide a real option for Windows Mobile/CrapBerry users to access Citrix backends! Of course support for the iPhone could be easily added, assuming Apple blesses this type of usage for its iPhone (oh yes, you cannot use the iPhone the way you want; you use it the way Apple wants you to – funny thing is you do not even notice Apple is actually manipulating you all the time).
Is the fate of all this really in the hands of a mobile device like the iPhone at the end? Or in the hands of someone that sees the potential for renting RedFlys at hotels, eliminating the need for us carrying another device?
Time will tell.
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