Ismael Ghalimi has assembled a comprehensive, well-written body of content about Office 2.0 on his IT Redux blog. In his most recent post, he touches on a topic I've brought up in a few recent posts - the rough state of affairs in some recent online application offerings. More interesting is the observation he makes that the switching costs inherent in these applications is exceedingly low and people seem to be hopping from one shiny new bauble to the next as quickly as they're made available.
This observation mirrors the behavior I've seen (and exhibited myself to a certain degree). The best analogy I can draw is that it's kind of like taking a week-long test drive of one new car - using it to go to work, fetch groceries, or take a Sunday drive - and then switching to another new car the following week. Ultimately, you need to pick a car, buy it, and start making it your daily mode of transportation.
OK... that's a bit of a stretch but hopefully you get my point. Every time you (or I) switch from one online app to the next, there is "stuff" we need to move from system to system. Depending on the application, this might be calendar data, contacts, word processing documents, or spreadsheet data. In the car example, this might translate to grabbing our personal information (registration, proof of insurance, etc.), CDs, first aid kit, cell phone charger, and the other bits and pieces we store in our conveyances.
It gets to be something of a hassle and the implications raised by leaving traces of our personal information scattered around the net are worth a bit of thought as well. But the big issue is what your real goal in bouncing from service to service is. If you're simply someone who enjoys the exercise, there's no reason not to take a "31 flavors: may I have a taste of the flavor of the month?" sort of approach.
If, on the other hand, you're looking to establish a core set of online apps you can live with for the long haul, Ismael concludes his post with some sage counsel:
"My advice to Office 2.0 ventures is the following: stick to your guns, nail one or two applications down, let early adopters — bleeding edge pioneers, shall I say — assemble best of breed setups, then figure out ways to integrate with other applications. Once more concrete usage patterns will have been identified, you will still have plenty of time to put a suite together, but keep in mind that it will not look anything like Office 1.0, therefore there should be no rush trying to replicate the later for the web. Nobody really cares for that."UPDATE: Ismael pointed out this amazing database of Office 2.0 applications he has assembled with links to the applications themselves, reviews he and others have written about each, and an excellent comparative grid of their capabilities, design philosophy, availability, and cost.