I bought a new desktop computer a few weeks ago. My laptop had made it 28 months, a record for me, but it was on the fritz and I was ready for some better performance and bigger screen size. I took the laptop in for a tune up and then assumed I’d leave it in the closet except in the cases of long work trips where I needed more than my iPad. But I’ve been surprised. I use all four of my computers (iMac desktop, MacBook Pro laptop, iPad, iPhone) all the time, switching back and forth between my laptop and desktop at home constantly.

Part of the reason I go back and forth so much is how seamless it is to move between computers. This is enabled by a faster shift to cloud solutions in the last couple years, primarily because of the ease of connectivity and the availability of applications that make it so easy. As examples, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Dropbox – I really can’t express how much I love Dropbox. It might be top 5, right after my navigation system, dark chocolate, my furry black hat and stinky cheese. I rarely save files on my local hard drive anymore. I keep most everything on Dropbox, which means that I can access files from any of my four “computers”. And even better, everyone at Thought Ensemble works out of Dropbox, and many of our clients and partners do too. So I can go into a client folder at any time and get the most recent version of a presentation, go into our sales folder and see every proposal we’ve done this year, access the latest chapters of our book, whatever I need. I love it.
  • MobileMe. I started using MobileMe when I switched to my first Mac and iPhone. I realized when I lost my phone (see blog) how happy I was that all my data was stored out in my little cloud. But now I love it even more because my calendars and contacts are in sync no matter which computer I’m using. It is immediate! Amazing.
  • Email (IMAP). I’ve been shocked that my email has stayed in sync between my two Mac Mail applications, as well as the iPad and iPhone apps. We host our mail on gmail and the IMAP syncing really works. Now I have had some glitches, some of which had to be solved through the google Captcha program and some through rebuilding my mail file, but generally it works great.
  • Evernote – I’m actually typing this in Evernote – my favorite tool for keeping lists, brainstorming ideas, taking notes on calls, capturing notes from web pages, and saving reading material. Again, Evernote works with all four devices, although you can’t change notes with funky formatting. I’m a big fan.
  • I’d mention Google Docs, more for sharing the editing of files across our company, but we’ve had so many challenges with access breakdowns we’ve given up on it in the short term. Hopefully it will be back to round out the suite.

All these solutions really expand options for the mobile worker. It is so much easier to move around than before. It is also interesting to think about what an industry has been created. Businesses have been created around supporting big company cloud needs, but there are also a lot of individual/ small business opportunities out there. If I add up what I’m paying for Dropbox, MobileMe and Evernote, since I’ve upgraded from free to bigger accounts on Dropbox and Evernote, I’m paying several hundred dollars a year for these little luxuries. That adds up, it is worth it to me and those companies are going to make a mint…