Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Google's GooOS?

Many of my posts seem to concern Google, so why not stick with the theme.

It is increasingly apparent that Google is making a move on some of Microsoft's territory - with Gmail most recently, which will compete directly with Hotmail. But it does seem that what Google is moving towards is something much more profound - they are becoming an online OS with "the world's top search engine, a social networking service [Blogspot], a shopping price comparison engine [Froogle], a new email service [Gmail], and a local search/yellow pages engine." Kottke.org calls it GooOS in this great post.

All computerized devices will soon be online, and they aren't all going to need a big Windows style OS. Instead, they could use an interface with Google, GooOS, to run the device, search, and create and store all their files. Here's how Kottke puts it:
"Google isn't worried about Yahoo! or Microsoft's search efforts...although the media's focus on that is probably to their advantage. Their real target is Windows. Who needs Windows when anyone can have free unlimited access to the world's fastest computer running the smartest operating system? Mobile devices don't need big, bloated OSes...they'll be perfect platforms for accessing the GooOS. Using Gnome and Linux as a starting point, Google should design an OS for desktop computers that's modified to use the GooOS and sell it right alongside Windows ($200) at CompUSA for $10/apiece (available free online of course). Google Office (Goffice?) will be built in, with all your data stored locally, backed up remotely, and available to whomever it needs to be (SubEthaEdit-style collaboration on Word/Excel/PowerPoint-esque documents is only the beginning). Email, shopping, games, music, news, personal publishing, etc.; all the stuff that people use their computers for, it's all there."

Skrenta, at Topix.net calls the Gmail privacy issue a "red herring." I think it's important for Google to resolve those issues, but few people will actually care that a robot is reading their mail in exchange for 1 mg of storage space. Skrenta is right about one thing though - the potential of Google is not reached by giving out huge email accounts, it's the "seemingly incremental features [like Gmail] that are actually massively expensive for others to match, and the platform that Google is building which makes it cheaper and easier for them to develop and run web-scale applications than anyone else." Google has designed and built one of the biggest and cheapest to run computer/server systems in the world. They even store a map of the entire web in RAM - which is why your search takes only milliseconds to return to you. As Google adds applications to their system and scales it's servers it is actually putting together the software components and the hardware platform for an online OS. Apparently they've hired some OS experts as well.

Essentially, Google is putting itself in the position to challenge Microsoft, not only for online email service, but as an online operating system.

Via Gothamist.


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