Apps Do Stuff and Bring Things to You

The modern business: a money button that you can make a request, “Give me a thing”, and you magically get this thing, and that’s the easiest way possible. You can keep requesting the thing over, and over. That’s the ultimate goal, to make that product as easy as possible to use in a minimal amount of time to use it.

My goal for PubNub customers: to help offer a service that a user “magically gets” without having to do anything. PubNub offers developer APIs for sharing data in realtime between phones. In my world, the company shouldn’t have to invest time into research, read documentation or install SDKs to get PubNub APIs working. And they wouldn’t even have to be a developer to add in-app chat.

Goalz, indeed. One that doesn’t seem too far out of reach when you consider what PubNub is already doing.

Modern foundational businesses (AWS and PubNub) keep making life easier for a range of different industries, who, in turn, make life easier for their end-users.

Whether it’s about reducing latency to a nanosecond in a multiplayer game or using data to deliver value to the consumer through their mobile phones or IoT devices, it’s all coming into very sharp focus. And the possibilities are seemingly endless.

What We Already Know

PubNub is a data streaming company whose first major initiative was the interactive technology that allowed a nation to vote and participate in the American Idol process. The voluminous data was then processed in real time, and what was displayed on the user’s phone was also on the television screen, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.

The ride-sharing platforms Uber and Lyft are also powered by the same type of data streaming, as is chat, geomapping, stock tracking, live auctions, triggered SMS, push notifications, gamecasts, scoreboards, and more practical activities such as incident monitoring and resolution alerts.

While PubNub did not invent this technology, it would seem that they have perfected it. As evidenced by their illustrious lineup of clients, Lyft, JustEat, HubSpot, Logitech, and Adobe among them, they use data to better understand their customer’s problems (which are essentially the end user’s problems too) and then solve them.

Instant Gratification Opportunity

Demanding more from your device make sense. Like your applications. New solutions are being introduced on a daily basis, and many fail to meet user expectations on some level. They either don’t deliver their result in a practical (easy) way, they don’t do it quickly or the quality of the result is not reliable. If it fails on any of these tacks, it is destined for the scrapheap, the landfill, and soon, unceremonious oblivion.

In order to succeed at a viral level, a solution needs to be scalable. It needs to be reliable. And probably most important, it needs to have the least possible latency so that it delivers what it promises, instantly. This, in a nutshell, is what makes an app or a device “awesome” or … not so much.

While you might wonder how anybody could actually know how quickly and efficiently a signal was processed, think about multi-player gaming. Of course, there are many purely practical examples, and gaming is probably the most illustrative of this need. In popular multiplayer games, players from all over the world interact, meaning that any action taken on the part of one player must be delivered to all other players, everywhere, at the same precise moment. If that didn’t happen, well, chaos would surely ensue, or at the very least, anger, expletives, and a lot of broken toys.

Network with the Bandwidth to Support Your App

PubNub’s solution to this issue was to minimize latency to 250 milliseconds or less than 0.25 seconds. This would, essentially, guarantee response reliability across the entire world.

Even if you’re off vacationing in downtown Tokyo and your home is in Silicon Valley, you can turn off your lightbulb using your phone. In less than a quarter of a second, that light switch will be invoked. Latency is the key. You’re going to expect the same thing with the light switch on the wall as with your app, and that’s something that we are able to provide.

PubNub does this by nature of their own patented technology, 14 patents to be exact, that they have used to create a globally distributed network.

Now, of course, any API service provider can access their endpoint from anywhere on the planet. PubNub has just done it a little differently. They have spun up data centers in almost every continent and nation, allowing mobile devices and IoT home devices to connect to the data center that is closest to their endpoint. Once they do that, it allows them to gain the fastest path between the two endpoint devices trying to exchange information.

This is something that content delivery network (CDN) providers do, providers like Akamai, CloudFlare or Fastly, however, what PubNub does is a little different. Since they are a data streaming network, they do what’s called a data push, something that could be described as the exact reverse of a CDN. However, they still use the CDN model for their architecture approach, and that’s where the patents lie, specifically, in the globally distributed network that allows for extremely fast signal delivery, that thing that allows you to turn your light bulb on and off anywhere on the planet as fast as you could do with a light bulb switch on the wall.

Push Notifications Control Your Life

Other ways in which these distributed networks can deliver value is through push notifications. That’s right, those pesky (and admittedly, sometimes useful) reminders that our devices send to us to alert us to various things like appointments, app updates, or even prodding us to detach ourselves from our computers and move our bodies.

Leveraging data that is being collected via billions of data streams around the globe, companies can push out information to the consumer a range of things, about traffic, weather, world news, energy consumption, new shows that might be of interest, virtually anything you can think of, and that’s only at the consumer level.

In manufacturing, retail, business or a range of other industries, these same types of notifications will make it easier for us to manage processes, make business decisions, learn new skills, and even trigger runtime updates based on device state changes or other sensor information. Much of this technology is still emerging, and it is poised to compete with Google and Amazon at the consumer level. Beyond that, it will also help to control devices in the field, leveraging the data collected to deliver it back to the consumer or a database, which can then deliver notifications based on business intelligence relevant to a specific purpose.

It is this sort of informational loop that has the potential to change just about everything in our lives. Until now, it’s mostly been a “nice to have” sort of thing, helping us keep our schedules straight, stay apprised of the weather before we head out, and of course, keep us on top of our gaming activities.

Apps like Lyft or Uber, as practical and useful as they are, are not nearly as widely distributed, nor adopted, as mobile games. It’s the sheer volume of users and the volume of countries, the dispersing across the planet. It’s kind of surprising. They’re not practical, and they’re not pushing humanity forward. It’s just these time-consuming, fun things that humans need to do. Our obsession with gaming, gamification, and game technology development might be holding us back a bit in terms of humanity. Why aren’t we in the stars yet? It’s because we’re playing video games.

Over at PubNub, you won’t find anybody playing games without a purpose. It’s all about bringing new products to market that enable growth and, ultimately, bring the future into sharper focus.

Let me give you a little hint: it will be along the lines of connected cars and home automation and other big things like that. Since we have a ton of IoT devices connected to us already, we know what our customers are doing, and we know where they are having a hard time. We’re going to make the difficult parts easier, and the new IoT devices will be secure and much easier to deploy in the marketplace.

That’s when customers love you. That’s when you find your champions, your evangelists, and you get that influential growth effect. We’ve seen that with PubNub itself, and it’s really just the beginning.

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