China plans to put up 100,000 thin clients in public places in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics to help people figure out what's happening when.
The terminals will largely exist to provide visitors with information, in various languages, on Olympic events or even let people send e-mail and make phone calls, said John Kish, CEO of Wyse Technology, which is helping the Chinese put the project together. Remote IT managers can reconfigure the terminals for different purposes depending on what they want to accomplish.
The Smart Display project will be a significant, and very visible, test for the thin-client industry. Thin clients have been the next big thing for several years, but Kish says many of the lingering performance problems have been solved: networks are simply much faster than they were five years ago, and far more storage exists. (Thin clients differ from desktops in that most of the computing is performed by a remote server, and all of the data storage takes place on a distant hard drive.)
Security breaches with PCs also are also a factor spurring acceptance of thin clients, as are lower hardware and support costs, which have goosed sales in India and other emerging nations.