Lately, no one seems to be able to generate noise the way the cool kids in the Googleplex do when they squeeze off a random shot into the web application space. What I find interesting is the increasing polarity in the responses I'm reading to each release. The Google Death Cult (GDC) seems bound an determined to laud every new offering, Will the winner of the next cycle of software evolution come from the cloud or the desktop? no matter how half-baked, as a mortal blow to Microsoft. Everything Google does, according to this group, is intended to kill something.
The Google Critics Society (GCS), on the other hand, is increasingly questioning the why and wherefore of each release. Most recently, this group is engaged in a very public examination of what the plan from the Googleplex is. Or, more to the point, if there even is one.
So many words have already been written on this that, rather than rehashing it all for you, I though it would be a lot more expedient to provide you with a sampler of some of the more interesting pieces I've read in the last couple of days to set the stage and then ask a couple of seemingly simple questions. No program will be provided. I suspect you will be easily able to figure out who is in which camp.
OK. Here are my questions:
- Why do you think Google wants to "kill" anything?
- Will the winner of the next cycle of software evolution come from the cloud or the desktop?
- Is Google really hurting OSS and small ISVs with their "GOffice" applications?
- Do you think Google is "head-faking" Microsoft? If so, do you think Microsoft is so reactive as to fall for that strategy?
Looking forward to your thoughts. To get things going, my answers are:
- No - it's not in their power to kill anything or anyone outside of their core competencies in search and contextual advertising. And that war is yet to be won or lost although Google is certainly winning at the moment.
- If I were placing a wager, I'd have to favor Microsoft's installed base and their recent Live initiatives to win in the short term. Success in the cloud will come from working with what's on the desktop (whether that's MS Office, OpenOffice/StarOffice, or something new).
- If anyone is being "killed", I think it is small or loosely joined developers and communities.
- There are a lot of smart people at both companies - too many to sustain a game like this for very long. If this is what's going on, it's a short-term strategy and ultimately will give way to something better and more productive. Watching two kids play chicken gets old fast and everyone usually gets bored and wanders off after a while.