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Considering Google as a software company

Mark M [PersonRank 1]

Monday, January 16, 2006
16 years ago

(from an email I sent to philipp, which he reminded me would fit better here!) Here's a question that I've been wondering about recently: If Google was considered to be a software company, would they be doing a pretty bad job? I mean, in my opinion, they haven't provided a lot of "programs" (albeit they're more web services) and tools/features people have been itching for. Gcalendar really comes to mind along with the usual and unlikely browser/os stuff, but features on google reader, gmail – remember all those features we were promised a month or so back from the google blog during the anniversary of email? -, and in my opinion the really resource-hogging picasa, which for a person like me who has a trillion more photos saved from the web as compared to shots from my digital camera...

sorry i'm getting off track. i guess picasa is more for the moms and dads of the world rather than the average internet geek, but still, us geeks need a photo organizing tool too right?

anyways I guess the question I'm trying to pose is whether Google is any better at, say, adobe or microsoft, in terms of providing features that people really want. Honestly in my experience, open souce projects such as firefox and VLC have surprisingly been the best at providing a speedy delivery of features that I want, even if they're in the form of plugins (because usually those plugins just work, and they're not obtrusive in comparison to the average plugin for a big name commercial application like AIM (deadaim), photoshop, IE, Word, etc – I get bummed out at seeing seven splash screens, logo screens, useless additional menu items, etc for various plugins – oops, i'm getting off track again!). Google is working to fix some things, like providing Gtalk with a personally longed-for access to AIM, but I think if google really wants to shake things up, they need to announce some open-source and open-to-contributors efforts in areas that would be as significant as, say a google flavor of linux, or perhaps if they don't want to threaten existing FOSS projects, they could offer to help fund and participate in say, GIMP or OpenOffice development. They wouldn't gain control over someone like OpenOffice (because that would conflict with the organization's structure and definition) but they could help make a promising suite infinitely more powerful, popular, user-friendly. Think about how many people would ditch MSOffice for a googley suite!

sigh, off track again...anyways, just wondering about your thoughts on whether Google as a software company is stacking up well or poorly against the competition. Thanks for writing one of my favorite blogs out there, all the best,

-Mark M.

Philipp also says they're not doing stellar, but as web apps go they're still top dog. Here's hoping the rest of google catches up!

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