Friday, February 8, 2008

Mobiles - Thick Vs Thin clients

I and my friend had an interesting discussion on how long thick clients are going to survive in mobile market. We pretty much concluded that thick clients are going to exist for next few years.

Thick clients are the ones which are special software programs in mobiles. Thin clients don't have any special software running on mobiles. They use browser and scripting that gets executed in the context of browser.

Thick Client advantages:
  • Provides Rich user experience
  • Provides facility to work off-line and synchronize upon connectivity.
  • Reduces bandwidth usage: Presentation data need not be sent over the air. Only application specific data (which is smaller in quantity) needed to be exchanged between client applications on mobiles and servers. User Data entry can be validated in the client application before sending it over to the server, thereby reducing back-and-forth communication between client and server upon errors.
Thick Client Disadvantages:
  • User may need to install many applications. There may not be enough memory and persistent storage in the mobiles.
  • User needs to patch these applications to plug vulnerability holes.
  • In case of Enterprises, it is head ache for IT departments to maintain and support many applications on mobiles.

Thin Client Advantages:
  • Many of thick client disadvantages become advantages for thin clients.
  • Most of heavy work on the server side.
  • No need of application maintenance on the mobiles. IT departments only need to concentrate on maintaining the servers.

Even with its advantages, thick clients are going to survive until

- Web2.0 techniques such as AJAX, flash are available in Mobile browsers.
- Server content and presentation is improved for mobile screens.
- Reliable connections to servers.
- Coverage and throughput is improved.

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