Google’s “Universal Office”

March 15, 2006

Topics: Google.

I was thinking a lot about Google’s rapid rate of acquisition recently. I was planning on giving a serious look at the acquisitions Google has made over the last 5 years or so…

Fortunately, I don’t have to. One of the first things I read today was a recent post from William Slawski – Another Google Purchase. The first line of the post gave a link to his own list of Google’s acquisitions. It’s always nice to run across these things before doing a lot of unnecessary research!

Looking at the scope of purchases, there’s a fairly even mixture of new projects and additions to existing projects. They’ve purchased a couple of statistics companies – Urchin and Measure Map. They picked up Keyhole, which has been plugged in to Google Earth, and have now purchased a company with 3d design software – @Last Software. These projects seem to tie together, since @Last does have a plugin for Google Earth already.

The latest purchase, Writely, does seem a significant step in a new direction. With the
constant rumors
of a Google web-based operating system and the recent
GDrive rumors, one has to wonder where Google is heading. There is a clear trend towards web services which can provide a tremendous degree of functionality – but I feel it’s more accurate to say that they’re working towards a "universal office" – accessible anywhere, using any operating system, with any device.

To me, an operating system is exactly what Google doesn’t want to get involved with – it would open a whole new area for them, branching into hardware compatibility and driver issues. Why should they take responsibility for your hardware? Instead, they’ll provide online services which anybody can use, as long as they have a computer which works. How it works is somebody else’s problem.

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