Google Flares? Jason 07 Jun 2006

79 comments Latest by IanWC

What if Google was so brilliantly twisted that they’re using Writely and Spreadsheet and Calendar and massive numbers of new hires as flares to distract Microsoft (and others)? Shoot up a flare (Spreadsheet) and scare Microsoft into paying even more attention to new attacks from new directions. The flares serve one purpose: to redirect competitors’ energy away from focusing on search/ads, which are Google’s core competency (and primary revenue source). Hey look over here!!! Is Google the best slight of hand magician around? Is the “Google Office” just a head fake?

79 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Bernie Aho 07 Jun 06

I think you may be right. If that is the case than it something big. A nifty Google OS would do it. That would worthy of the David Blaine tricks. “Hey look at me I am in bubble of water!” While MS is forced to rush out Office Live…I could buy in to that theory. Unfortunately, the casualties are the 1-3 person startups that get real success until google launches a product with their money and clout that could have been done by a 1-3 person startup.

Ed 07 Jun 06

Can’t it be both? Google’s strategy allows them to distract competitors who have less focused missions (what is Microsoft REALLY focused on today? Where is it’s brand? It’s too distributed) and at the same time roll out a solid, simple set of tools that help everyone, including Microsoft in the long run.

For example, webmail providers were around for years (including MS’s Hotmail service), but it wasn’t until MS included Outlook web applications that many business users began using webmail, rather than relying on their local email app.

Phil 07 Jun 06

This is exactly what i’ve been saying. Google is just doing this to take advantage of the hype machine and play on Microsoft’s paranoia.

I don’t think its a distraction technique (because lets face it, Microsoft can do many things at once) as it is just a joke on MS, maybe to get Steve Balmer to throw another chair. Plus its free publicity for a company that does not advertise.

Although if Google were smart, they would drop this nonsense and partner with Microsoft. Afterall, they are not really competitors, and MSN was happy to use Google as their search and ad provider until Google started “hulking up” with all these other random services. If Google had stayed friendly, they could have easily been the default search engine on the next IE instead of turning the sleeping bear (that has a $35 billion war chest) against them.

Spike 07 Jun 06

Microsoft’s brand is unfocused because they are going for it all. They want you to search through them, produce documents through them, watch your movies and tv shows through them. They want you to buy their mice and keyboards, they want you to run their operating system on hardware they license. That’s the direction Microsoft are moving in. Google are going to be an unknown quantity until they make users pay for some software. Then we’ll have a better idea.

MasterQ 07 Jun 06

This is exactly what I have been explaining to a couple of my friends. Google is using psychological warfare against Microsoft. Just to get them talking and to get them thinking, and to get the media to spin off and run with it.

Its like Oscar Dela- Hoya fighting Mike Tyson (no Microsoft isn’t just big and dumb), for Oscar to win, he’s got to dance around, throw surprises and get Tyson off his game.

But the real question is…well is it working? If it is actually working, it’s a great tactic, if it’s not its Google that’s actually wasting their time and loosing focus. I think the best thing for Microsoft to do is just to continue do what they are doing, stay on course. If they start changing and scrambling, thinking god no office is under attack … regroup the nerds, they’ve already lost.

My question to y’all is what should Microsoft do in this situation, speaking from a strategic perspective?

reid 07 Jun 06

It’s Google’s very own immigration reform. Love it!

Phil 07 Jun 06

MasterQ, Microsoft unfortunately has already taken the bait. And doing exactly the wrong thing. They are throwing developers at the problem. They are on a huge hiring frenzy now and it’s never been easier to work at MS. I know quite a few people that have gotten offers there lately who would not have been “MS Material” a few years ago. They need less cooks in the kitchen not more. MS also recently announced they are uping R&D by $2 bil, which caused their stock to drop to lowest in years, while Google’s soars. So yeah, its working.

nate 07 Jun 06

Phil:

From Microsoft’s perspective, *everyone* is a competitor. That is, everyone they can’t either dominate or own.

Phil 07 Jun 06

MasterQ, Microsoft unfortunately has already taken the bait. And doing exactly the wrong thing. They are throwing developers at the problem. They are on a huge hiring frenzy now and it’s never been easier to work at MS. I know quite a few people that have gotten offers there lately who would not have been “MS Material” a few years ago. They need less cooks in the kitchen not more. MS also recently announced they are uping R&D by $2 bil, which caused their stock to drop to lowest in years, while Google’s soars. So yeah, its working.

brad 07 Jun 06

I don’t buy this speculation. I think Google honestly sees a niche for itself in providing simple online collaboration tools and is going for it; they might be distracting their competitors as a byproduct of pursuing that strategy but I doubt it was conceived chiefly as a distraction.

nate 07 Jun 06

The reason MS stock dropped on the news of their additional R&D investment is because Wall Street knows it’s a completely wasted effort.

They’ve been at it for the better part of 4 years, and look where it’s gotten them.

Baeck 07 Jun 06

My question to y’all is what should Microsoft do in this situation, speaking from a strategic perspective?

If this really is nothing more than a distraction technique from Google, then the best thing for MS to do would be to fall back on their core competencies: OS, Office, and to some extent now XBox. If they can remain unstoppable in those areas, then they can worry about engaging other competitors in the broader spectrum of products.

To the extent that people really want web-enabled Office products, MS needs to worry about that, but they shouldn’t let a fad dictate their product direction or energies. It is often the second person to the market who wins the battle because they can learn from the mistakes of the original implementation.

Kandace 07 Jun 06

Interesting. We had a slightly different take on this announcement.

daniel 07 Jun 06

Heheh. You said “core competency.”

Sam Barnum 07 Jun 06

Sounds more like wishful thinking, Jason. By dismissing google’s web-based apps as a scarecrow for MS, you can ignore the inevitable prospect of competing with google. Until they roll their own version of one of 37signals’ products.

sj 07 Jun 06

If it’s a distraction, it’s a damn good one. Writely needs some work, but I’ve abandoned Outlook in favor of Gmail, and based on what I saw trying out spreadsheet, Excel is about to be a casualty as well.

Although you gotta love Excel’s pretty charts…paragons of design excellence.

JF 07 Jun 06

Sounds more like wishful thinking, Jason. By dismissing google’s web-based apps as a scarecrow for MS, you can ignore the inevitable prospect of competing with google. Until they roll their own version of one of 37signals’ products.

I’m not dismissing anything. I’m just throwing this out there for discussion. That’s why there’s a question mark in the title and questions at the end of the post.

Zeke 07 Jun 06

I think both companies here are large enough that they can afford an ad team, as well as an office team. I doubt MS has taken anyone, or any resources off of their ad services and put them onto the office team, in an attempt to put out the fires Google has lit with their spreadsheet app.

I think they’re trading pressure here, nothing more. Google wants to beat MS to the punch with online apps, and MS is going to have to work very hard to bring the momentum back to their product.

Chris 07 Jun 06

I don’t think MS are that stupid..

J 07 Jun 06

doubt MS has taken anyone, or any resources off of their ad services and put them onto the office team

2 billion in R&D. Corporate focus. Even if you don’t act right now, just THINKING about Google pulls you off your game.

Mario 07 Jun 06

What no one so far seems to be taking into consideration is Microsoft’s other big threats. Between Apple and the major Linux distros (Novell, Ubuntu), as well as Open Office, Microsoft’s software is quite clearly inferior to everyone who is paying attention. More and more people are turning away from MS and turning onto the “alternatives” in a very big way. So MS is terrified from all angles. That’s why they have to compete on all grounds and also why they’re losing. MS can’t do the small thing. They can only do the big thing. Smaller teams won’t save MS. Big teams won’t either. So they’re only route really, from my perspective, is to try to do more than everyone and try to convince people once again that MS is the way to go by reinstating the monopoly they’ve had. They’re losing the monopoly and so people see choices, and when they evaluate those choices they see the grass is greener on the other side. So that’s why Google is doing this other stuff: to add to the choices people have. In essence, Google is cooperating with Mac and Linux and also all the small guys (ironically) by adding choice to the mix. Lack of choice is the only reason MS did so well to begin with, and increased options will take them down. (Or maybe I’m just crazy.)

mojotek 07 Jun 06

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. While I do think their new directions are JUST head fakes, I’m sure they serve a dual purpose.

Mike Swimm 07 Jun 06

I disagree that the point of Google acquiring or developing online office tools is to distract Microsoft. If you read the history of Google, their philosophy from day one has been to make the worlds information readily accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. The ability for someone to create their own information easily and cheaply is a natural extension of that idea.

In the last few years Google has purchased some incredibly expensive software and given it away to people who would otherwise not have been able to afford it. How many people do you know who were paying for Keyhole before it was free as Google Earth? They just bought Sketchup, one of my favorite pieces of software but $500 a license, and released a free version this spring.

In my opinion they see Microsoft charging $300 - $500 for a suite of communication tools as bad for both the average user and their vision. Google obviously cannot buy Office, so they are slowly creating their own alternatives ( i.e. Writely, Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, or their partnership with Open Office).

Kendall 07 Jun 06

I think that it is both. It seems that Google is not only able to widen it’s hold on internet mindshare, but also monetize it with ads. They’re getting paid with all of their products. I think the result of that leaves Microsoft to wonder, how can we compete. But I don’t think that Google is scared of Microsoft in the ad arena. I think they’re trying to extend their reach into as many niches as possible to generate even more ad revenue. If people would stand for ads in Outlook, Microsoft would do that. But people wouldn’t stand for it. So Microsoft is locked in. I think that they may rush OfficeLive to get into that… but still, Microsoft users are fairly stuck in their ways, and are used to having their software work the same way it has for the last 10 years. Change is slow for Microsoft users.

Dave Churchville 07 Jun 06

I spoke with some Google people the other day, and they have this “20%” thing, where they work on whatever crazy ideas the engineers have with 20% of their time (70% is spent on search and ads, 10% on something else I can’t remember).

So other than the Writely acquistion, I think they’re just having fun. I don’t see a clear strategy at all, other than the geeks making things that they want for themselves.

Now, this philosophy *might* wind up being kind of distracting to Microsoft, and a whole slew of Web 2.0 companies.

Imagine that some geek from Google writes a simple AJAX project management app for free in his 20% time. It becomes instantly popular (if you can get an invite for the beta). The market for other web-based PM apps sags.

All this not because Google corporate has a strategy, but just because a bored developer can do it.

I’d feel a lot more comfortable if Google would start charging for some of these applications, how about you?

Ara Pehlivanian 07 Jun 06

Ummm, somehow I don’t think Microsoft and Yahoo! with their thousands upon thousands of employees and myriad departments will get “distracted”. If anything, ol’ Bill will just create a 400 person team either from idle resources or new hires and sic them on “the enemy”… I mean look how quickly they caught up with Google Maps.

You’ve got to remember, Microsoft et al. aren’t tiny companies with limited resources. As for their abilities to actually gain market share by somehow catching up to Google, that’s an entirely different story.

Kendall 07 Jun 06

I’d feel a lot more comfortable if Google would start charging for some of these applications, how about you?
Most fo these apps are ‘bankrolled’ by the ads that appear in them. Google provides it’s employees 20% of their time to work on personal projects. This could be considered R&D. They then parlay those ideas into apps that they can generate revenue from through ads. So essentially… they are ‘charging’ for them.

Tory 07 Jun 06

I don’t think MS are that stupid..
I don’t think Google is that smart.

Luis 07 Jun 06

Just like Apple, you never know what their plans are until a new product is rolled out. Even then, that new product will fuel speculation regarding the company’s directions/motives.

In the end I think humans complicate things too much by thinking what if this and what if that. Maybe it’s simply a direct course: develop a product and release. Next, and next, and so on.

Kego 07 Jun 06

I really don’t think that Google is just doing this to “scare” Microsoft. No, I actually think they are doing exactly what Microsoft did when it first started up and for the exact same reasons.

He who owns market share wins.

Microsoft undercut Apple computers with their cheaper and faster produced operating system, DOS. Before apple (or any other company) could even try to compete against them, there were thousands of PCs distributed across the U.S. and being used by the vast majority of users. When the other companies came out with better products, it didn’t matter. Everyone has DOS PC computers. Market share wins.

Google is undercutting Microsoft (gaining market share) by producing “free” products. Using Microsoft’s strategy against them. Once they obtain optimal market share, then Google will have the same ability that Microsoft has now… the ability to trap people into their products. Once you go Google (which is free), how easy will it be to switch to Microsoft Products? Probably not very easy. Which is why Google is grabbing all those small companies now… so that when they get big… they will be Google users, not Microsoft users.

Jesse Skinner 07 Jun 06

I was thinking Google might just be encouraging and inspiring people to use the web more.

People everywhere are building all sorts of web apps, some trying to get bought by Google or Yahoo!. This will make more people spend more time on the web, which will certainly benefit Google and Yahoo! indirectly.

I’m sure it will scare the shit out of Microsoft, and probably cause Microsoft to do more web-based stuff (which will continue to benefit Google, etc., etc.)

Greg Retkowski 07 Jun 06

It’s nothing so clever as some phyche-out battle with Microsoft. When you all the sudden have a $118B market cap you now have to justify you just start throwing spaghetti at the wall and hope something sticks. What you are seeing now is more Google software spaghetti.

J 07 Jun 06

I think you’re right Greg.

Dan Boland 07 Jun 06

Google is an advertising company. They make free products to earn more in ad revenue. Whether or not it hurts Microsoft can’t be their chief concern. And besides, .xls is a Microsoft file format, so they still hold the cards.

Epaminondas Pantulis 07 Jun 06

This is exactly the point that Joel Spolsky states in his article «Fire and Motion».

niblettes 07 Jun 06

And what are you guys going to do when Google decides to offer project management for free and integrated with a complete web-based office suite??

Who is going to pay for basecamp then??

pj 07 Jun 06

Interesting take on Google. I’d agree.

Most of their beta labs stuff is pointless and they must be having a laugh that people think we should be using the apps in the Enterprise. It’s all free advertising and fun for the guys and gals working at Google.

Jason 07 Jun 06

Great thoughts! I never really thought that these little products are really capable, at least not for the immediate future, of putting a chink in the Office armor. However, to use these as a distraction makes sense.

Jason 07 Jun 06

Great thoughts! I never really thought that these little products are really capable, at least not for the immediate future, of putting a chink in the Office armor. However, to use these as a distraction makes sense.

Killian 07 Jun 06

My take: MS has the corporate world in a stranglehold and that means Google has a very small shot at that market.

On the other hand do I really need to buy Office Vista for $100 when I can do all my Word Processing and Spreedsheet junk for FREE ?

This is not a distraction - this is Google taking a stab at the currently _overserved_ personal software market with some great disruptive software.

Go Google Go

J 07 Jun 06

this is Google taking a stab at the currently _overserved_ personal software market with some great disruptive software.

I think 37signals would agree that this is a good plan. Software is too bloated. However there’s one thing missing: Google isn’t a software company. Why is Google producing consumer software? There are certainly other things that Google can be doing that are far more profitable than giving away free consumer software.

Kego 07 Jun 06

Why are they doing this? Market share, market share, market share…. They are making a new empire to compete with Microsoft. Once you go Google… it will be hard to switch to Microsoft (or any other company products). Think about it…. You got Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Office products, and then Microsoft and Google both come out with a new PM LIVE software package. The Google one integrates with all your other Google stuff. The Microsoft one won’t.

Indeed… go Google go!


Indeed… go Google go!

Hrush 07 Jun 06

Think about it this way - what Google says and what Google does.

What Google says they’re doing is “Indexing and organizing the world’s information.”

What Google is actually doing is “Indexing and organizing a world of information about you.”

Once they do that, Ad Sense is on a rocket ride. It graduates from serving you ads that are immediately relevant ONLY to your current search phrase.

Hrush 07 Jun 06

Think about it this way - what Google says and what Google does.

What Google says they’re doing is “Indexing and organizing the world’s information.”

What Google is actually doing is “Indexing and organizing a world of information about you.”

Once they do that, Ad Sense is on a rocket ride. It graduates from serving you ads that are immediately relevant ONLY to your current search phrase.

Ara Pehlivanian 07 Jun 06

Has it occurred to anyone that maybe Google isn’t trying to distract its competitors so much as it’s trying to distract it’s users?

Think about it. How much innovation have they really brought to their search product in the past year or two? If anything, they just play around with their formula every once in a while to keep SEO people on their toes. But they haven’t acheived their goal of some kind of super AI system.

So, in the meanwhile what do they do? They throw a bunch of bones at their users to keep’em busy and starrey eyed. That way, investors keep pumping cash in, and nobody complains. Otherwise, they’ll end up like AltaVista the minute someone wakes up and goes “hey, Google isn’t all that special”

(P.S.: If you never hear from me again, it’s probably because Google somehow silenced me for figuring out their ploy ;)

Jon Davis 07 Jun 06

because lets face it, Microsoft can do many things at once - Phil

… And they manage to do them all poorly.

Don Wilson 07 Jun 06

When you have a few thousand employees I’m pretty sure the company can do a few things at once.

Mike G 07 Jun 06

I think this is possiblity, and a great observation. But I also think that Google aspires to own all the information associated with any given person…all leading up to serving you the perfect ad, at the perfect time, for the perfect product. Well, that or world domination.

Donnie 07 Jun 06

This touches on the foundation of Microsoft’s problem. They are pushing themselves in so many directions that they lack a sustainable philosophy for solving problems. They have defined bloated software and I doubt Google’s strategies will distract them from much of anything.

Bill Gates has said that he wants to “keep Google honest.” For the time being Microsoft has conceded the search war to Google. Of course, Microsoft has a fetish for being the biggest in everything and I doubt any “flares” from Google will distract them from that.

Adam 07 Jun 06

Perhaps they’re diversifying their investments? Perhaps you would like to put all of your nest-egg into one company (Google)?

Mike Papageorge 07 Jun 06

I do find it funny how people go on about how “google do this badly” and “google does that poorly”, when in the end, I go to Google.com and find what I want. You may have a point with your flare theory, as people sure do get in a huff over stuff Goog does…

Google does search, and they do it the best. The same goes for contextual advertising.

I remember when people were talking about “Google the portal” too… They may in the end put together something world changing, but at the moment they’re still flying high from the last world changing things they did: Search, and contextual advertising.

(I have yet to work on a site where Google doesn’t provide 80% of the search traffic.)

Geoff 07 Jun 06

I think Google is simply working to fulfill their mission. From their website:

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

As I recall, this has always been their mission. I think spreadsheets, email, sharable calendars, etc directly support this objective.

They may not have figured out how to monetize these things yet, but remember, they rolled out search long before they figured out how to monetize it.

pwb 07 Jun 06

It’s incredibly difficult to truly distract a big company. Which is why BigCos continually lose share and entire markets to upstarts.

CoryS 07 Jun 06

Two words: thin client

A new world that Google would love to foster, MS may not like to have happen.

No, thin clients aren’t for everyone and everything, but for a couple billion people outside the US, its not a bad model at all. Let’s see, spreadsheets and document software for people in India & China on low cost PC’s supported by ads, if it is a strategy, it may not be bad.

filmnut 07 Jun 06

You know what’s really scary: that Google (with 6,800 employees) can innovate so much faster and more efficiently than Microsoft (63,564 employees). What are throse extra 56,000 employees doing?

Duncan Rawlinson 07 Jun 06

Eric Schmidt:

“We try very hard to look like we’re out of control. But in fact the company is very measured. And that’s part of our secret.”

http://jcgi.pathfinder.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1158956,00.html

Bob Aman 07 Jun 06

I actually came to this conclusion awhile back, but eventually partially rejected it. I think this is partly an extension of the 20% time thing, and partly just a component of Google’s culture. I’ve heard that they have internal message boards of some kind where people just post ideas, and people sign on for the ones they like. With enough support, an idea gets green-lighted. Or something to that effect, I could be wrong. But the general idea simply being that if 20-30% of the effort at Google is being directed in areas not directly connected to search, but not explicitly specified, products like Spreadsheet are inevitable. If those products make Microsoft panic, so much the better.

Let's add value. Thank you. 07 Jun 06

Google is not worried about Microsoft’s search offering. The spreadsheet came about because there are a bunch of web spreadsheets already, and someone at Google thought it would be fun to spend 20% to make one of their own.

Your “flare strategy” doesn’t make any sense. Businesses are not run like military reserves. If Google announces a spreadsheet, Microsoft doesn’t respond by telling the MSN search team to quit what they are doing and go rescue the Excel team.

John 07 Jun 06

or maybe all the new hires are really a new direction for google, and they are starting to change the way they do business.

RichH 07 Jun 06

Well, if like me you harbour the suspicion that Google is actually the NSA (think about this; why have to go and get the intel when you can have people asking you to search and catalogue their entire PC, over and above handling all email, searches etc And the whole Larry and Sergei thing - who despite their ‘riches’ still live like they earn government salaries. The ‘don’t be evil’ tagline and cute logo/name is the perfect cover. And the timing of Googles rise corresponds with Carnivore and Echelon being exposed and facing much negative publicity) then it makes perfect sense for them to expand their suite of offeriengs until people use Google/give Google(the NSA) everything they create and document, everything they look for, everyone they communicate with, everything they photograph. I expect at some point Google to offer some form of payment/banking service to close up that aspect of personal information too.

Forget delivering the perfect ad at the perfect time, think sending the men with guns to pick you up at the right time.

Wilson Miner 07 Jun 06

One less optimistic view is that Google is fast becoming as fragmented in its direction as vision as Microsoft itself.

Digger 07 Jun 06

Google is certainly looking less and less focussed. Sucked into the diversify model - trying to be all things to all people. World domination is inherrently “evil”. If Google truly does want to dominate and usurp Microsoft - the “do no evil” mantra will wear awfully thin very quickly.

Jon 08 Jun 06

Jason,

I was a paying customer of Basecamp. Excellent application, but then I had a closer look at the free GMail, which I was already using. Dropped Basecamp and now using GMail instead for project management.

Google Is Not Your (or any web developer’s) Friend.

Good luck !

Simon 08 Jun 06

Jon,

What features of GMail do you have that I don’t? How do you use GMail to replace Basecamp and manage your projects?

Marc 08 Jun 06

I cannot believe it! Intelligent people who just don’t want to believe that Google has diluted its focus and is going all over the place. They’d rather believe that it’s a genius new strategy.

It’s like when some artist throws a bucket of paint on a canvas and people start admiring it and explaining why it’s a genius work of art.

Wake up!

The only other possibilities is that Google is trying to mimic nature in terms of having a set of evolving strategies rather than a well-defined, predictable strategy.

That would make sense, but why don’t they educate the world about it rather than keep everyone guessing whether they’re floundering (spilling paint on a canvas and having the masses cheer them on) or if they’re trying to mimic mother nature with their evolving strategies.

?

Marc 08 Jun 06

I cannot believe it! Intelligent people who just don’t want to believe that Google has diluted its focus and is going all over the place. They’d rather believe that it’s a genius new strategy.

It’s like when some artist throws a bucket of paint on a canvas and people start admiring it and explaining why it’s a genius work of art.

Wake up!

The only other possibilities is that Google is trying to mimic nature in terms of having a set of evolving strategies rather than a well-defined, predictable strategy.

That would make sense, but why don’t they educate the world about it rather than keep everyone guessing whether they’re floundering (spilling paint on a canvas and having the masses cheer them on) or if they’re trying to mimic mother nature with their evolving strategies.

?

Jonny Roader 08 Jun 06

I kinda agree with you, Marc.

Google produces lovely web apps, but there is discontent brewing about their search. The Big Daddy infrastructure upgrade - Google’s biggest project? - has been a bit of a mess according to many. And I know quite a few IT people who are increasingly using Microsoft and Yahoo for search *alongside* Google. That is surely worrying for Google, even as their hype machine thunders along.

But then who really knows what Google is doing? Corporate secrecy is possibly Google’s best strategic weapon.

Phil 08 Jun 06

The spreadsheet came about because there are a bunch of web spreadsheets already, and someone at Google thought it would be fun to spend 20% to make one of their own.

Erm…actually no, Google spreadsheet was the result of a Web 2.0 company getting bought out by Google.

Eric 08 Jun 06


Why do people think Microsoft is run by idiots? This takes it to another level… assuming that Microsoft is so stupid that another company could get them to panic by buying companies that might compete with them? Actually, I’m not sure that’s what this is insinuating, more so that Google thinks Microsoft is stupid enough to fall for that, but the notion does lean towards it being valid.

Ok, Microsoft has made some bad decisions in the past, I can agree to that. And they’ll make more. And they’ll make some evil decisions, as they have in the past. I’m not sure they are ones most businesses wouldn’t make, if they are trying to succeed, but that’s a different topic altogehter. Bottom line, do you really think they hire idiots and are just a bunch of monkey’s flinging poo at each other all day? They are bright people, in technology and business, and they aren’t stupid enough to ruin their own business because somebody else is doing something that might compete with them.

They may not “get real”, but they also aren’t complete morons.

Rob Aston 08 Jun 06

The only Google product that I use on a regular basis is their search engine :)

I have heard that some of their beta products are quiet good and when I get time I will have a more detailed look.

I think Google probably are trying to distract Microsoft but they are also distracting themselves. Do Google really know what they are going to pursue long turn? What do the global online community need and want? YouTube is a good example of a web 2.0 site sneaking under the radar of Google so it work both ways.

A recent Mac convert, I still use a Windows machine… Google still dont largely and consistantly (excluding the search engine) feature on my radar and Im sure Im not alone here.

Eric 08 Jun 06

I have though from the beginning that Google is putting up these “good enough” tools in order to scalp the small business market from MS. With writey, spreadsheets, calendar and mail in combination with Google for your domain you effectively have an all-in-one package of tools for small to mid-sized companies to interact with the big guys. Oh, let me not forget talk for company chat/VoIP.

Each one of these alone is a simple web app, taken together it’s a killer package that will guarantee a captive audience for years to come. A captive audience that is NOT tied to the MS platform.

Imagine the boon for small companies that can get off the ground with *ALL* the features they need online. Get a few laptops from Dell, Apple, or both and you are golden, ready to start interacting with the world. Sure you might need 1 copy of office for the occasional feature, but for the most part you would not.

Tim 08 Jun 06

These things seem to me to fit right into their strategy of organizing the world’s info. They’re pretty darn good at scraping and parsing text content from a web page. Scraping data from a database is a little bit harder. So they create Google Base, so that you’ll do it for them. Now they don’t have to figure out the data schema— it’s in their pocket. But who uses Base? It’s too awkward to put anything into. So Spreadsheets becomes the perfect front end for Base. If Spreadsheets doesn’t already store its content in Base, I bet they’ll make it extremely easy to export to it.

Marc 08 Jun 06


I thought about it some more, and I can see three possible theories:

1. Short range chaos vs. long range order (decreasing entropy as the long range trend, like evolution) — this is what I think they’re doing.

2. Complicated but predictable srtategy (distrActive as well as constructive) — this is what Eric thinks they’re doing.

3. Pure decay — few would consider this.

I would think it’s too early to consider the third theory.

Marc 08 Jun 06

I meant Jason not Eric.

kmilden 09 Jun 06

I know the real answer to why they are creating or buying these applications and I am not telling…

Matthew Stibbe 09 Jun 06

I’ve had access to Google Spreadsheets for a couple of hours this morning and I’ve posted my first impressions on my site: http://www.badlanguage.net/?p=154. Cheers, Matthew

Greg Cheong 12 Jun 06

Another viewpoint adding some weight to the “losing focus” arguments:

http://www.fool.com/news/commentary/2006/commentary06060927.htm?source=mppromo

Cheers,
Greg

Francis Shephard 29 Jun 06

Microsoft should be worried, its obvious now that the browser and thin client apps can provide the majority of features and functionality that end users (business and private) want for their daily tasks. The big clunky install model is a dying breed.

Isn’t it likely that the universal browser will become increasingly able to leverage the hardware attributes of PC’s / Macs / Boxes in order to bring a greater dimension of capabilities for Browser Based Apps. Microsoft is still 3/4’s down the path of FAT apps and bloatware as a methodology adapated to keep the constant sale of new hardware happening around the world - providing them with invaluable OEM dollars to add to their nest.

Microsoft should be partnering with Google, to create some duopolisitc strategies which lock everyone else out.

Additionally shouldn’t Microsoft develop a clean break with their OS - AKA like Apple did with OSX which was a coo for Apple and has led to a significant improvement in their business. Why can’t Microsoft actually just write the equivalent of Rosetta on the Apple and create backwards support that way. From what I’ve experienced in Beta, lots of Vista is old stuff, re-badged. Its dragging the past forwards in an attempt to re-invent itself, but its dragging 10 years of underlying issues with it at the same time, e.g. the file system!

If they’d stop being obsessed with control, MS might actually be able to create an amazing OS, but for now, its a new skin, or there abouts.

IanWC 14 Jul 06

With Open Source and Linux offering a completely free computer environment, and Google offering an advertising funded one, the future of Microsoft being able to charge $100s for their software and operating systems is looking increasingly shaky. Microsoft have been able to maintain their position as their software is bundled with nearly every computer sold today, however even this pre-install strategy is under threat. Recent Court rulings have limited the amount of bundling that can take place, and Google have recently struck a deal with Dell to have Google software pre-installed.

I must be one of the few bloggers out there that doesn’t hate Microsoft. They make great products and have revolutionised computing over the last decade, but I forsee a couple of cracks in their mighty empire, and i’m interested to see how they respond to these cracks with Vista next year… or at least with Vista SP2!

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