There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about so-called “cloud computing,” in which all software and utilities are stored and accessed on the Internet rather than on a user’s hardware. Think of, which sells software as a service (SaaS). mobileStorm is SaaS-y too!

Yahoo, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard have a joint project to create a network that lets researchers test their cloud computing experiments–the goal being that open collaboration among industry, academic, and government researchers will advance the state of the cloud. And geeks were atwitter over a leaked video of a virtual world called City Space that will run on OTOY, a 3D engine that runs games in the cloud–an example of how the cloud might combine the power of different hardware into an all-encompassing supercomputer of sorts. These bright stories, however, became cast under a cloud of a different sort this week, when open software activist Richard Stallman warned against the technology.

“It’s worse than stupidity; it’s a marketing hype campaign,” Mr. Stallman told The Guardian. Basically, he sees the cloud as another trap that forces users to buy into locked, proprietary systems–the same argument against Microsoft, the ultimate enemy of open source.

I’d been wanting to write about cloud computing, as it is related to how mobileStorm and other SaaS products work. But Mr. Stallman, whom I usually find to be logical and compelling, is a bit off here–and I want users of our marketing software to understand why.

We all know technology is ever-changing. Messaging, and especially mobile, technology overturns fast. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) respond to constant spam worries by regularly updating regulations for how marketers can send email through their services. Cellular service providers, now that worries about privacy are on the rise, have followed suit. In addition, the perpetual improvements rocking cellular technology right now–3G networks, smart phones with increasing multimedia and Web capabilities, etc.–will also affect how marketers should send messages via text, mobile email, mobile ads, and other ways to reach customers on their cell phones.

Because of these changes, software and/or best practices need to grow as well. That’s why Web-based solutions like ours are ideal: You don’t have to worry about updating your software because it will automatically be done at the source. And some solutions providers are also dedicated to educating their clients, keeping them abreast of happenings related to best practices and regulations.

Then there’s the cost savings to the neophyte. Marketers just getting into a new space, like digital messaging, might not want to spring for a whole package of software, so they can start out paying for a cheap monthly subscription.

Sure, Mr. Stallman points out that in the long run, a monthly subscription could cost more than a one-time payment for a package of software downloaded on computers. Indeed, that’s the argument I have long had with subscription-based music services–you pay out over a long time and don’t own a single song in the end.

But software always changes, and eventually people have to buy brand-new packages anyway. And in realms where the platform-user also needs extra help like education about best practices, the cost of a subscription is worth it.

Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”