Tonight Google unveiled its web-based Calendar application, called Google Calendar (not CL2 as it was labeled initially). TechCrunch has a review of the product and Mike Arrington called it "fast, slick and stable". There's also a tour of Calendar available here and Dave Winer took some early screenshots.
My first impressions are that it's a very polished product and nicely integrated with Gmail. Google is well on the way to building a Microsoft Office killer! OK you know what I'm going to say next ;-) Yes, this is yet another pointer to an upcoming Google Web Office. Email and calendaring go together like vegemite and toast, so it was a natural step to integrate the two. But also consider what Google has been up to recently with Google Base, which I covered in my post entitled Google Base begins to roll out the verticals. Plus the recent Writely acquisition and progress on desktop/Web integrated products like Google Desktop - and it starts to look like Google is pulling all the jigsaw pieces together. It's happening right under our noses... or should I say Microsoft's nose.
Let's review all the elements of a Web Office suite and see how Google's progressing:
|Web Office Element||Does Google have it?||Status|
|Yes - Gmail||The best and most innovative web email system around. Gmail recently turned 2 years old, so it's a mature and dependable product (despite still having the 'beta' label!).|
|Calendar||Yes - Google Calendar||Brand new, but looking good and playing nicely with Gmail already.|
|Web processing||Yes - Writely and whatever else Google has been cooking up behind closed doors||Early stages - Writely was the best of breed among web-based word processors in my recent review, but it's still very early in the innings for word processing on the Web.|
|Spreadsheet||Not that we know of||There are some great solutions on the open market currently: JotSpot Tracker, NumSum, iRows. Perhaps a Writely-like acquisition is on the cards from Google in this space, unless Google is working on their own app.|
|Presentations (i.e. Powerpoint competitor)||Not that we know of||I didn't uncover many web-based presentation apps in my Best of Breed post, but I was informed afterwards that a few folks are working on it.|
|Database (i.e. Access equivalent)||Maybe - Google Base?||Google Base is Google's growing database of structured data, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that they'll use it for this purpose in a Web Office suite.|
|Web design||Google Page Creator||Well, it's a start...|
|Project Management||Not that we know of||Your guess is as good as mine.|
|RSS||Google Reader||A solid product that will likely be integrated into Gmail at some point - as Yahoo has done with RSS and Microsoft will in Vista.|
|Desktop management||Google Desktop||OK not technically an 'office' application, but Google Desktop - which integrates search on the Web with desktop - will be a key part of any Google Web Office system.|
So that's a progress report on Google Web Office. With email and calendar now firmly in place and integrated, word processing (a key office application) on the books, ominous signs of an all-purpose database in the form of Google Base, other pieces waiting to fit into place (Page Creator, Reader) and Google Desktop to underpin it all with search - I'd say Google is well on the way to building a Microsoft Office killer! It's a long-term vision, I'm sure. But the office is slowly but surely moving to the Web, or at the very least a Web/Desktop hybrid.