Crazy Little Thing called (Google) Love

People are lapping it up.

Google launched Spreadsheet on Tuesday and it was promptly covered. There’s a rumour about Picasa coming as a Web-based version soon. Anything Google releases is a matter of hot contention. It is not a question to ponder whether the interest in the product will be sustained or will die off the very next day itself. As long as it exists in the minds of the people, it will always bring in the hits.

You may call me a Google-basher, if you wish, but it still baffles me why Google should churn out these services at such a high rate. There are so many better things to do! Like, for example, they could actually be fine tuning their Search algorithm or re-inventing it.

Maybe they are already doing it and these things are simply to throw the hounds off the scent. Or maybe, they don’t have a clue where they should be headed now. Whichever it is, the big picture is really hard to see right now.

In the last year, since the advent of Gmail, AJAX and Web 2.0, Google has been building up a veritable repository of Apps, sorry, FREE apps for the public. What they did not create, they bought. And what they could not buy, they bought the competition and gave it away for free.

Again, the concept of Contextual Text-Ads worked fine, but then other players have now entered the Market and they are slowly eating up into the marketshare. Not that it is going to affect Google’s ‘economy’ much, but yet, it is something Google cannot ignore for long.

Let’s take a look at the facts:

  1. Google has built up a large user-base based on one single product – Search.
  2. Google has introduced various offerings into the Webosphere, definitely keeping up with the trends. Yet, there has been no visible innovation seen in the recent times.
  3. Every new Google product or offering has one result assured – Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.
  4. And lastly, each of the newer Google products is loosely integrated with the other ones.

Take a look at the last one again. There are no links from any of the Google apps to the others, save for the standard footer (which is ignored most of the time). Except for a few isolated examples (Maps and Calendar in Gmail) there have been very few instances of product integration. Why hasn’t Google integrated attachments with Writely and Google Video? Or with Google Base for that matter? Surely, it is not unimaginable? Why are they ignoring/neglecting/forgetting/overlooking/whatever such simple points? Or are they doing it deliberately?

One fine day, if they choose to bring all services (the old ones, the current and the new ones) under one umbrella, then this is what your typical day might look like:

7 AM. Wake up. Ready yourself for your daily work. Breakfast.
8 AM. Check Google Mail. Add client appointment(s) directly into Google Calendar. Check Google Traffic* for driving conditions and consult Google Maps for best route. Drive to Work.
9 AM. Reach Work. Open Gtalk. Your Calendar settings have been imported and all your appointments have been sent automatic reminder mails/notices about your meetings. Check your Gmail. Collaborate on Software Requirement Specifications and make changes with your colleague in Australia and save it immediately.
10 AM. Create a presentation for your Client meet using GPres* along with the same colleague in Australia. Simultaneously tabulate all the requisite data, draw up some quick formulae with the help of your colleague in Europe. Voila! Google Spreadsheet is ready with a cost estimate instantly!
11 PM. Client is online. (Need we mention free WiFi, here?) Hold a webmeeting with your client using Gtalk and conduct a video conference simultaneously. Close the deal and send a link to the already drawn up MoU and NDA along with the cost estimate that you just ruffled up with your colleague in Australia
1 PM. Open Google Search. Look for birthday Gifts for kids under ten years with a special interest in Pokemon. Find appropriate Gift. Pay using GMoney* and get it delivered instantly to your Office.
2 PM. Lunch Break
3 PM. Repeat steps 3 to 5
6 PM. Check your Gmail. Check for Google Calendar reminders/notices. Check Google Traffic* and Google Maps again. Drive home.

(*Coming Soon to a Browser near you. Please submit your eMail address for a special beta preview invite.)

The keen reader may observe that I have touched upon barely a few of the current offerings of Google. I have merely implied the potential what Google could capture with its current offerings. Whay are they holding back then? Is it to be a surprise attack, a Blitz-Krieg of some kind? If suddenly Google chooses to generate revenue out of all the (currently) free services

Google is building isolated chunk of applications. For us, they seem like unseemly, strange shapes. But they might well turn out to be smaller pieces of a mastermind Jigsaw puzzle. Google could well be on its way to building the only competition to, and yet not compete against Micro$oft.

Confused? Picture this: The Google WebOS and the Google Office.

The world is moving towards the virtual. Google might well stand to gain from this movement. At the same time as Google builds a monopoly on the Web, Microsoft keeps its monopoly on the Desktop. This might sound like a random conspiracy theory, but it is supported by hard facts.

Note that Google has not pushed any independent standards with any of its Applications. Writely supports .doc format as well as other formats. Spreadsheet claims “Familiar desktop feel” and that you can “Upload spreadsheets or worksheets from CSV or XLS format – all your formulas and formatting will come across intact.”

Wouldn’t a company seeking to remove M$ out of the competition promote other standards so that they could force the users out of the habit?

Consider this: Of late, there have not been any major innovations and releases in Google desktop paraphernelia. Those that are released have a distinct web connotation, for instance, GDS 4. In the other corner. M$ seems to have slowed down its work on the web front. Ray Ozzie and his Live clipboard are being handled by tech enthusiasts, who realize the implications of the tool. But the man himself, (Ray) seems to have faded somewhere into the horizon. The first impression of this is each of them is sticking to known battlegrounds.

And if they continue to do so, is it not a precursor of the things to follow? Is it really a random conspiracy theory, then?

Technorati Tags: google, microsoft, conjecture, theory

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