My grandparents were what I like to call “just in case” people. Every knick-knack, sales item, or doodad that might have some utility some day was purchased, stowed away, and ready to help whenever it was needed. Dell Wyse, a virtualization company that helps users make what it calls the “personal cloud,” is today announcing the release of new “just in case” PocketCloud apps and services.
The new apps, including PocketCloud Explore for the iPad, Windows RT (the touch-screen optimized version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system), and the Web, offer users access to files and apps on their desktops. Essentially, Dell Wyse’s PocketCloud suite takes your home computer – with a little help from its companion app, which will ship pre-installed on Dell XPS and Inspiron computers – and makes its contents available on mobile devices.
Shipping these new products and offering them pre-installed on its own devices seems to be Dell’s way of combining aspects of its not-so-wonderful consumer business with its new focus on the enterprise (or something like that) and cloud-based services. The PocketCloud suite exemplifies this push, combining the utility of file-syncing services like Box and Dropbox with a little extra pizzazz to stand out from the rest of the herd.
Imagine the following scenario: You’ve decided to finally use your iPad as the main tool during a presentation, swiping your way through a slide deck instead of clicking and tapping on a computer. Then, horror of all horrors, you realize that you’ve forgotten the file at home and need a way to make it available, stat. PocketCloud wants to make that happen for you.
Unfortunately, that scenario requires a few assumptions, not least of which being the fact that you wouldn’t have synced the file – again, with something like Box or Dropbox – to your iPad in the first place. Dell Wyse says that its main differentiator is the ability to run apps that are on the home computer but not the mobile device, but even this feels like a stretch. As I wrote yesterday, poking through a non-optimized interface on a touch-screen device is a bit of a nightmare.
That’s the problem with “just in case” solutions. While we think that they’d be nice to have around, it can be a long time before they’re actually needed. PocketCloud’s desktop virtualization tool feels like the digital equivalent to buying a swimsuit in Alaska – chances are that the occasion will rarely, if ever, present itself.
In the end, PocketCloud’s new tools feel like a weird suite that isn’t quite sure where it belongs. If someone finds the tools useful, they will probably find them indispensable, but otherwise they’re likely to go unused, much like the cellar chock-full of “just in case” utilities my grandparents bought over the years.