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Chapter 8. The Internet and the World Wi... > Consumer Devices and Network Compute...

Consumer Devices and Network Computers

As the Web has grown, so has the range of devices that can connect to it. Many of these devices do not have all the capabilities we associate with desktop computers; they may be limited in computing power, storage, network bandwidth, display capabilities, and so on. Some of these devices, such as WebTV and Web-capable mobile phones, are aimed at a broad consumer market. Others, such as various kinds of network computers, intend to take full advantage of the Web and related technologies. They are based on the premise that the useful resources for users are all on the network somewhere, and the primary goal of the desktop device is to connect the user to those resources. These so-called thin clients are really built around the Web as the basic interface to computing.

Thin clients of various kinds have some important implications for Internet commerce applications. In particular, application designers must understand the range of devices they expect to be used with the application. For example, an application built using Java for execution in a browser rules out the use of any browsers that cannot run Java. Such a limitation may be an acceptable trade-off for some applications, but others may want to reach the broadest possible group of customers. As the various types of devices develop further and gain broader use in the marketplace, application designers should consider how to evolve their applications to keep up with what their customers are using. In particular, we examine some implications of mobile and wireless devices in Chapter 20.


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