Is Google taking over the world? Maybe. At the very least it seems like internet companies now fall into two categories: 1) Companies wanting to sell to Google and 2) Companies terrified of Google. In some cases it's probably both. But as the bloggers crawl all over themselves to give their take on the news of Google Spreadsheets (look ma, I'm on Techmeme!), the thing I'm most concerned with is how does this affect people developing Rich Internet Applications. And from where I'm sitting, this is awesome for RIAs and RIA developers.
The thing I like about Google is that raw talent is a commodity there. Everyone around you is smart, everyone around you is driven, and everyone around you is trying to push the envelope. As a result, Google can pump out applications that inspire everyone else. The Ajax explosion? Google Maps. That's a pretty impressive ability, and I think they're putting some of that magic into RIAs.
As Richard McManus has prophesized, Google is getting closer and closer to a full out web office suite. While all of this is built on Ajax, even the Google brain is going to hit the Ajax wall and will turn to other technologies to build their applications. I'm not trying to take a swipe at Ajax, but it's exciting to think about what Google will accomplish with other technologies. They've pushed Ajax to the limit, and in the process have people salivating over web applications.
As Google grows, and as its needs grow, the developers are going to branch out into other technologies and push those to the limits. There is no question in my mind that Google is going to drive innovation in the Rich Internet. RIAs are about power, ubiquity, user experience, collaboration, and media. Those are things that Google can take advantage of and monetize better than any other company. Ajax has gotten the brilliant minds of Google excited about the web as a platform, but those brilliant minds will turn to RIA technologies for the next step.