Google spreadsheet moves it further away from search

Google spreadsheet moves it further away from search

Summary: Google's expected launch of a web based spreadsheet continues its push into markets that have very little to do with its mission to index the world's information.The spreadsheet launch the Wall Street Journal reports will come on Tuesday,  adds to a long list of desktop and web-based applications that Google has been introducing on a regular basis.

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TOPICS: Google
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Google's expected launch of a web based spreadsheet continues its push into markets that have very little to do with its mission to index the world's information.

The spreadsheet launch the Wall Street Journal reports will come on Tuesday,  adds to a long list of desktop and web-based applications that Google has been introducing on a regular basis. One question I've been asking is: Is it okay for Google to take away a competitor's lunch and not even bother to eat?

By which I mean is it okay for Google to compete with many smaller companies, using its massive scale, integrating the applications into its platform - and not even bother to try and monetize those applications? And it is not even in its mission?

It is certainly not illegal to do this, and the cost of buying a small company and releasing the software for free is tiny for a company the size of Google. But, it puts people out of work, and puts companies out of business, and Google shareholders don't get any benefit. Wall Street doesn't raise the valuation of GOOG because it now has a web based spreadsheet.

In some ways GOOG's actions are similar to the way Microsoft integrated small applications and system utilities into its platform. Microsoft also engaged in illegal business practices to maintain its monopoly, nobody is accusing Google of that. But, it is far removed from its company mission statement.

I'm a big user of Google's software and services, and they continue to get better and better. That's the beauty of launching web based applications, you can see how and who is using the software and make improvements. MSFT has to run focus groups to figure out how its software is being used.

Google has a far better development model. But in my view, each of those applications should be its own individual profit and loss center. That would at least equal the playing field with smaller competitors who are trying to survive by building a business model around their products.

Will Google wait until it has driven competitors out of the markets and then start charging? I don't know and Google doesn't know either. At its recent media day at the Googleplex, the founders Larry and Sergey, and joint CEO Eric Schmidt said most of the products were "experiments" and they didn't know if, or when, they would monetize them.

In some ways it seems as if Google is out of control. Its internal product development teams are self forming and self-recruiting. It costs very little for Google to innovate since it expects its staff to spend 20 per cent of their time on their own projects. It's already paid their salaries and it offers them the world's largest computing platform. How can you compete against that?

What's the point in assembling a startup and raising funds for a web service that Google's internal teams can re-engineer in a matter of weeks?

Topic: Google

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8 comments
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  • it's all about search....

    This doesn't move google farther away from search, it's all very much related to search. Google is constantly looking for more content to index. Mail, word processing, excel, personals, classifieds are all mainstream content creation tools that satisfy google's need to index more and more information.

    Not only are they indexing the data, but they're indexing the relationships among viewers and sharers of the data. It's all about indexing and collecting more and more data, and in the end, it's all about using it to target better, more relevant ads.
    pinac
  • I am somewhat confused

    It is OK for Microsoft to behave like this because they make money out of it, but Google can't because Google doesn't make money from it? Colour me confused.

    BTW, I thought Microsoft had a small range of very profitable products cross-subsidising a raft competition killing loss leaders. One of which would seem to be a search engine. So just how else is Google to defend itself against Microsoft, other than to slowly cut of Microsoft's air supply...
    Martin down under
  • Google competing with OpenOffice

    Google is competing with open source projects like OpenOffice and Sun's free StarOffice.

    Google acquired Writely (word processing) and now has a spreadsheet. There was speculation last year that Google would partner with Sun to offer a version of StarOffice. <b>Instead Google has decided to go its own way and compete with OpenOffice and StarOffice.</b>

    C/Net says "Google spreadsheets turns up heat on Excel" I don't think so. Microsoft Office is a powerful, industrial strength, client based, information worker productivity platform. Microsoft Office is moving beyond just being a collection of applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to being a server based application platform for ISVs. Lots of companies run their business on Excel spreadsheets. Now creative start-ups are using Office as a front end User Interface to a whole variety of business applications.

    I wrote a blog on this subject today http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/06/google_competin.html
    DonDodge
    • Big, fat client software...

      OpenOffice is a big fat client, GOOG is building web based applications with heavy doses of AJAX, that is not competition with OpenOffice or MS Office, imho.
      foremski
  • It's STILL all about search...

    People, Google really doesn't care what you use to author your documents, they just want them indexed in google, shared by google and preferably stored by google.

    I'm betting there are going to be a ton of spreadsheets authored in excel and shared via google. does google care where it's authored? no.. does it want to know who you're sharing the data with and what kind of data it is?

    you bet.

    do not forget, google is an advertising company. the more information that they have, the better they can target ads, the more money they make. period.
    pinac
  • More of Tom's socialist babblings

    Tom, I'm going to be honest with you: you're a left-wing socialist, and you live in your own little world. Let me explain.

    Please take a gander at this chart from Garrett Rogers's blog right here on ZDNet: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Google/?p=198

    You will notice that Google Search has a roughly 80% market share. Now check out the second line, Google Image Search. Hmm... how strange -- [i]only 9.5%[/i]. Gmail is even worse, [i]only holding a 5.5% share[/i]. News is next, at [i]a pitiful 1.5%[/i].

    The fact of the matter is, the only thing Google has going for them is searching. But even if all of Google's services were wildly popular, let me remind you that we live in [i]the United States[/i] and we practice something here called [i]capitalism[/i]. If this disgusts you, please move to Zimbabwe.

    For the love of doughnuts, Tom, put down the Koolaid.
    anythingbutmine0
  • Directionless

    I've worked in marketing for 10 years and I can spot a company without a plan. They locked up search when everybody else was asleep at the switch, now, with competitors waking, they are throwing everything they can think of against the wall, hoping an alternate source of revenue will stick.

    There's no "master strategy" here. They're directionless.
    broper
  • ** Completely missed the point **

    Google has realized that it is difficult to go out and index all of the worlds information. There are many dimensions to this equation.

    One is that some information is personal. A user who wishes to search for something also wishes to search their personal information. This is where google desktop comes in.

    Another problem is that some product catalogs are enormous and navigating all the different options can be impossible for a web crawler. For this there is Froogle and more recently google base, which is integrated with froogle.

    Putting your information into google spreadsheet allows google easier access to index the information for you. It is another place where much of the worlds information is buried in proprietary standards.

    They are making small and very useful programs and linking them together. Once all the products are created and all the links are there, then, they probably will be able to index all of the information.
    jpump@...