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Summary:

Last week brought us news regarding Google’s future plans for their online application suite. At the Web 2.0 Expo CEO Eric Schmidt said Google will release a PowerPoint-type presentation application, slated for this summer. Then, VP Douglas Merrill announced on the official Google blog that the […]

Last week brought us news regarding Google’s future plans for their online application suite. At the Web 2.0 Expo CEO Eric Schmidt said Google will release a PowerPoint-type presentation application, slated for this summer. Then, VP Douglas Merrill announced on the official Google blog that the company has acquired videoconferencing software from a Swedish startup.

What else is in the works? Phil Sim of Squash makes some guesses after his participation in a survey of Google Apps Premier users. In that survey, Google explored his interest in a variety of applications. Beyond the basics already included in the suite, Google asked about project and contact management, file storage, and online discussion groups, suggesting they are thinking of incorporating these into their suite.

Combining this information, we can make some guesses at what you might find in Google Apps in the future.

1. Presentation. Through their acquisition of Tonic Systems, Google will offer an alternative to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, as well as to the many web-based presentation systems under development. That category includes SlideShare, Zoho Show, Thumbstacks, and Spresent.

2. Project management. Watch out, 37Signals: the survey Phil completed suggests that project management is on Google’s to do list, something that would likely compete directly with 37Signals’ popular Basecamp service.

3. Contact management. Gmail’s automatic creation of contacts from emails works really nicely. If you use Google Apps for your Domain, you can already share contacts across users. It’d be great to also see some Highrise-like capabilities — taking notes, tracking interactions, and managing tasks related to people you’re working with.

4. File storage and sharing. We regularly cover online file storage and sharing apps here at Web Worker Daily because it’s a core step in managing your online work. Google Blogoscoped ponders how it might look and work.

5. Online discussion groups. Google Groups already exists but it’s not tied into Google Apps. I’d like to see a unification under the Google Reader interface where you could browse your mail, RSS feeds, and relevant discussion groups all in one quick keyboard-accessible screen.

6. Wiki. Google acquired JotSpot on Halloween of 2006 and immediately closed it to new sign-ups. News has been sparse, but in January the JotSpot developers announced an upgrade for existing customers and said it will be the last version produced before migration to Google’s infrastructure. Perhaps Google will combine project management with the JotSpot wiki capabilities — wikis provide a reasonable alternative to dedicated project management apps for some teams.

7. Video chat. Google announced its acquisition of Swedish start-up Marratech’s video conferencing software, suggesting that they intend to use it internally only. No one would be surprised if Google incorporated it into the Google Talk client to support video chat, though.

8. Web meetings. Marratech offers capabilities beyond videoconferencing to include e-meetings and collaborative whiteboards along the lines of what WebEx is known for. Here’s hoping if they do offer web-based real-time meetings that it works better than WebEx.

What else would you like to see in Google’s online office suite? Check out this Google wish list discussion to get some ideas. I’m voting for online image editing — which seems like a fairly likely addition, given Google’s Picasa offerings.

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  1. GigaOM » What apps are in Google’s future? Saturday, April 21, 2007

    [...] including a video chat product that could be integrated with Google Talk. Web Worker Daily, taking a cue from Phil Squash and other publicly available data has put together a list of eight [...]

  2. Or they could actually innovate. All of this is boring. Yeah, I get why they might want all of it… but it’s BORING. There are solutions for most of these needs and, while Google might be the go-to player for some (esp file storage)… Google Video Chat? Who cares? Same way with web meetings and contact management.. God, Google has gone from bright star to suit SO fast.

  3. Rick…. I am with you 100%. I don’t care much for all this stuff. I think Google is despite all the posing not all the innovative. Nothing ground breaking … nothing new. Just old retreads, and some of it is from other companies. Its an ad-company with the least cost inventory.

  4. The importance of their inventory of applications has more to do with the coming demise of Microsoft than anything. Take a look at the stock market – Google’s going nowhere and many expect it to have its best days ahead. The applications Google is bundling under their umbrella spells one word for Microsoft: disaster.

  5. While the google apps may be pedestrian, what’s interesting to me is how they take a web-native approach. They’re not just reproducing MS Office apps online but exploring and extending the web paradigm.

    I’m not all that thrilled with Google Docs & Spreadsheets — Word and Excel work a lot better for the kinds of tasks I do on a regular basis. But Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Notebook do work better for me than any desktop versions of those.

    I’m interested to see what Google comes up with even in app categories like slide shows that seem kind of boring.

  6. Shaine Mata . net › Eight Google Apps in Our Future Saturday, April 21, 2007

    [...] read more | digg story This was written by Shaine Mata. Posted on Saturday, April 21, 2007, at 9:11 pm. Filed under Life. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Post a comment or leave a trackback. [...]

  7. The one thing Google has going that gives them a real edge is AJAX. Compare the stupefying Yahoo interface, er.. if you really have time.

    I agree with Rick tho’. But what’s behind all that? Well, it’s really a Gutenberg thing, medium lag. Kinda like early movies just turning the camera on stage productions, or look at the retro-fit TV shooting techniques have given Hollywood.

    Web 2.0 is in the same state right now – like it’s about ramping up Web 1. It isn’t at all, but it’s actual life that drives the message home eventually. I mean, ‘Office’, the context not the app, is sooo 20thC passe.

    As usual it’s all about The Next Big Thing/Killer App.

  8. The point for me is that to anyone outside of the IT sphere, all this web 2.0 crap means absolutely nothing. All they want are good apps to help them do their work. Web 2.0 only means anything to people at web 2.0 companies.

    Microsoft is in trouble? Please. Last time I looked, having tens of billions in the bank, constantly improving sales (heading for $50bill/year), having your software on 90+% of the world’s computers and making incredible profits were not hallmarks of a company in trouble.

    Right now, online apps are simply not business-grade, or fast enough for the majority of users. In five years time, maybe, but Microsoft is all over that problem with WPF and the .net 3.5 stack. Trust me, in five years time, the majority of people will still be running Microsoft apps – whether online or not.

    Microsoft employs some of the smartest people in the tech industry. The fact is that these people are not about to run the company into the ground, Google or no Google. One good app (Gmail) does not a Microsoft-killer make.

  9. Google, wo gehts Du hin? auf kaimueller.org Sunday, April 22, 2007

    [...] dazu, gibt es beim Web Worker Daily Spekulationen mit welchen Applikationen uns Google in der nächsten Zeit erfreuen könnte. Dass Google [...]

  10. I’m always perplexed as to why something has to be a “killer” in the first place. I think the best web applications don’t ask you to give up anything you’re already working with. Instead, they make those tools better. Microsoft and Google both offer applications that are in my “toolbox” and it’s not an either-or thing. Why not both? If I decide to use a hammer for one job, should my wrench be nervous?

    I see this all the time in the nonprofit space, where companies are looking to sell us on these huge all-or-nothing suites of services, when in fact what users like me really want are mix & match and flexible APIs so we can design a package that best meets our individual needs.

    A Google video conferencing application is boring in itself. Just like Gmail and Google Reader are rather bland on first look. What’s exciting about Gmail and Google Reader is how extensible and flexible they are. You can think about what you want to do, and then figure out a way to make Gmail do it. If Google applies the same approach to all their apps, that’s when it will get interesting. The application is the platform, not the operating system.

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