Looking back, Fall 2006 would be when Google transformed from a petulant tween to a responsible adult, behaving much like the establishment it once made fun of.
Buying YouTube for $1.6 billion (mostly for traffic and reach in the video space) was company’s first BIG outside acquisition (of a product that competes with an existing Google offering), indicating the NIH syndrome is gone. There were some stern words from Sergey Brin who wants the company to stop mucking around with new projects and get things finished (aka usable.) LA Times reported Brin leading the charge on a project called “Features, not products.”
The growing maturity is reflected in the upgrades to some of its offerings. Take Google Reader – which launched mostly to boos. It rebooted, and has since found fans amongst the toughest of critics (including the most excellent Lifehacker .) Even Paul Kedroksy decided to be kind to them . Today the company announced Google Docs & Spreadsheets – a combo product mashed up from an acquisition (Writely) and a lab project. (Previously, Google Office, Some Clues.)
Even though the new product is getting mixed reviews (rightfully so, because there are some bugs in this offering,) one cannot deny the fact that it is infact immensely usable. I write this post using the service, and hopefully will be convinced to use it as my regular blogging tool. (There are several other options on the market, and we will be exploring them going forward, and post reviews of those apps, either here or on WWD.)
Some of the new features added to say, Google Talk, show that the company is taking all the criticism being thrown its way and channeling the feedback into improving its offerings. If Google Reader, Docs & Spreadsheets are any indication, then one should expect better versions of products in the near future. My bet would be an enhanced Google Finance channel, and Google News improvements to follow. What do you think?
PS: Google Office its almost ready: GCal, GMail, Docs & Spreadsheets and Chat. What’s missing – a database app and slide show app.