Six years ago, while at 3Cube, we had huge expectations for moving software to the Web. Following some success with our fax over Internet product, FaxCube, and our phone conferencing and Web meeting solution, PhoneCube, we had plans to debut something by the name of "OfficeCube", which in theory, would let customers not only hold real-time chats and full desktop sharing, across OS platforms, but would give you an online vault where you could create, edit and save documents or presentations. This vision of the Web office was but a gleam in our eye in 2000, and for a variety of reasons, we never quite made it. Six years later, we still see the business world tied to software - and most of those are tied to Microsoft Office, despite challenges from Apple, Sun and now, Google.
Google started out as a search company, aiming to gain access to all the world's information, quickly and easily. But the company has branched out into a variety of Web applications, from Gmail for E-mail to Google Talk for instant messaging, Google Desktop for local search, Google Earth for mapping and much, much more. This week, Google takes it all a step further with the debut of enterprise-targeted applications that would be branded by third-party companies, but provided by Google. That way, you could keep your company.com domain but leave all the grunt work to Google's servers and staff. Sounds good, right?
Much of the conversations in the last several years were that in order to unseat Microsoft Office, a competitor needed to build clones of those apps that made Office what it is - Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But now, people recognize that the new office has a lot more to it - with a very real focus on real-time interactive communication, regardless of location. Google's debut includes the aforementioned Gmail and Google Talk, but also Google Calendar and Google Page Creator - which hopefully bears absolutely zero resemblance to Microsoft's horrid Front Page for WYSIWYG Web design.
As a consumer, we can't help but root for anything that enables more choice, and more variety, especially as it takes advantage of new technologies. I can't say that Google's will be the winner, or that we'll be adopting it soon. Google has no equal as a search engine, without doubt, but for me, GMail is a second-class address, on par with all the other free e-mail addresses I've accrued over the last decade, and the rest of the apps are just for fun. The only one I'm truly waiting with baited breath for is Google Desktop for Mac OS X, if they ever get there. Interestingly, despite Google's failings there, leading blogger Robert Scoble writes that Google is even further ahead in Mac support than Microsoft with some of its tools saying, "They (Microsoft) are gonna get their ass kicked in this space because of their lack of attention to the Macintosh."
As you can expect, anything Google does gains plenty of attention. You can see further discussions of the launch at SiliconBeat, Searchblog, and InformationWeek.
To check out the solutions for yourself, go to https://www.google.com/a/.
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