Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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The Future of Computing is Google - Should We be Worried?

The Future of Computing is Google - Should We be Worried?
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

I didn't just say that Google is the future of the Internet - that is scary enough - and virtually true today. I said, The Future of COMPUTING.

Google has always been a gentle giant - unlike the bravado Microsoft. No rantings and ravings - no pronouncement that "our way is best," or "we know what is good for you." No, Google's way is to welcome open standards and actively promote their competition. For example, their tool to move a blog off their (free) Blogger service is fully as complete and usable as their their tool to transfer a blog onto Blogger. Try getting your data out of a Microsoft product such as Outlook or Hotmail.

Perhaps Google has learned from Microsoft's mistakes. Gentle wins in the long run. This is really good for Google, but is it good for the rest of us. Because Google take such great pains to offend no one, because it is so capable, and because it now has tremendous momentum, Google is taking over more of the world of technology every day.

Google completely dominates my own professional life as an author and blogger to an extent that is more than a little concerning. Google search and Gmail are the least of it. My blogs are on Blogger, but I could use another service. It's not even Picasa, or YouTube, or FeedBurner.

AdSense/AdWords - that's the stranglehold. Google is essentially the only channel for a small business to either advertise of receive advertising revenue on a website or blog. Yahoo and others aren't even on the radar. If I had to, I could use Yahoo's search engine, but if I lost AdSense/Adwords, 80% of my professional activity would vaporize.

In its own gentle giant kind of way, Google is now creeping up on computing and enterprise information sharing. Shared calendars and shared documents for starters - moving quickly toward a complete collaborative computing environment. Just watch - for most users, personal and corporate, the only local software will be a browser, perhaps Google's Chrome. Google's individual and collaborative on-line productivity and authoring applications will dominate for all but the most demanding users.

Should we be worried? Perhaps not, but don't become too complacent.

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