The rise of Battle.net for online multiuser gaming, the increased popularity of Instant Messaging, wireless access, and even web-enabled devices such as cell phones, Palm Pilots, and devices utilizing Windows CE show we are increasingly using our computing devices for more than storing recipes or as work stations. The computer is evolving into a communications device.
This past year, for example, one of the authors was sitting in an airport and working on his email when it occurred to him that what he was doing used to be a novelty. Now it is commonplace, and being in a non-wireless location was more a minor annoyance than the norm. On another occasion, the author was walking across the street with a visitor from Britain who opened up his cell phone and started pushing buttons. When he asked what the visitor was doing, the reply was, "I just took a photo with my cell phone and now I am emailing it to my wife."
On another occasion, one of the authors was having lunch with a local Flash developer and a couple of IT guys. The conversation turned to the use of dynamic Flash content in education and what a typical online class would look like. When the sketching started, there was a lot of talk about Flash components and their use and placement on the page. It wasn't until a week later that it occurred to the author that having that conversation 18 months earlier would have involved some serious coding and the employment of cutting-edge technologies.
How far we have come in such a short time.
In our drive to get connected to each other, there will be an inevitable increase in demand for the services and content that enables those connections. One of the services will be the Flash Communication Server MX, and the technology that connects to it is the Flash Player 7.
At a recent conference regarding Macromedia Studio, Jeremy Allaire, Macromedia's former Chief Technology Officer, positioned the Flash Player in terms that are quite appropriate. He claimed the Flash Player isn't the technology that makes Flash work. He called it a "Trojan Horse." He didn't see the download of hundreds of millions of Flash Players. What he saw was the distribution of hundreds of millions of communications devices that were just now being turned on.