Google Grows Up, Gets An Office


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.


Jesse Kopelman

When I think online applications, I think mobile devices. Trying to deal with a small form factor and get good battery life is a huge incentive to move all the computational and storage requirements you can off of the device. Considering most people expect the computing/Internet experience for 3/4 of the world’s population to come from mobile devices, this is the a very important field to be working in for the long term.

Erez Elul

Googel or not it is all about the Web 2.0 issues!!!

So, Ok, what is The Next after Web 2.0 ?

If Web 2.0 is syndicating, sharing and taking the internet to its elementary pieces, then the Next is applying activates between the elements of Web 2.0.

If Content in Web 2.0 is an elementary piece, then the Next elementary piece is the relations per se, which are combined in the content, between such contents and which are linked by/via/to it.

Imagine peers having their private “knowledge base” on each of their machines. Imagine each of the peers employs each other’s machines, but contrary to grid computing or distributed computing, they do so in short pulses and in a developed reaction, in which each of the peers forms and not only performs the tasks, while earning and ranking the trust of the others.

If sharing in Web 2.0 is exercised by delivery of contents, then another scale of processing the information is opened up for such communities.


Gtall i sgreat next thing peoplr are eagerly waiting for is Video /Web Cam compatibilty in Google talk. If we get that i can tell you yahoo and microsoft will lose lots of it customers. I’m bettiing on this.



Dear OM,
In your posting other day about the rumours of Google acquiring YouTube, you took a stand that this deal most likely won’t make much sense..

Now that acquision news is anounced, what’s your reasoning abt this ?? Please let us know ..



I took a look at the spreadsheet during beta – and gave them about 50 feedback concerns on security and why I’d never touch it again unless they fixed it. You’d have to be insane to use it for anything even remotely confidential and there’s no way any of my business info is going near it.


“PS: Google Office its almost ready: GCal, GMail, Docs & Spreadsheets and Chat. What’s missing – a database app and slide show app.”

What’s missing is integration. Where’s the search across applications? Separate search for email, calendar, docs & spreasheets, reader, etc?


Sure – I would use this. Just as I am working through my online Excel sheet with my company income statement, Google will send me a targeted ad for tax consultants and tax lawyers because their analysis of my “protected data” shows them I have some good deductions I may or may not be aware of.

Call me crazy but Context based advertising is the only Revenue model Google has. Context based ads come from analyzing data – public and private. No way this tool will see mainstream adoption – regardless of cost.

Just my 2 cents.


mixed feelings about this – is hardly ground-breaking stuff, is it? crikey, i was working on x-windows object-oriented distributed WYSIWYG office apps some 10yrs ago (the wonderful applix/aster*x/alis products) – also, this ‘new’ (sic) approach reminds me of the sun/oracle initiative from a few years back – sun/oracle obsessed rather too much, for too long re: microsoft – let them do what they do best (eg office apps, etc) and focus elsewhere, guys – or, are you already running out of ideas?


Getting on the Office space is all fine, but will people make the change from MS-Office? In my opinion, developing new technology products/services is the easiest bit, getting people to switch is the tough part. Time only will tell.


I love Google, unlike the Microsoft, they listen to the customers and constantly improve. But I agree with Om that they don’t deviate from their original objectives. Cheers.

Pedro Beltrao

The Google page creator could easily morph into a slide show app. If you go there now and substitute every mention of the word page with slide and add some of the usual objects used in presentations it would be enough for a labs release.

Diego Barros

Hi Om,

Are you still concerned about security? Would you use Google for Domains or Google Office for yourself or company? I believe you had doubts about Google Domains earlier in the year.



About time too. Google need to delivery useable software and not just flights of fantasy from the development community. Any more disasters such as the first version of Google Reader would surely knock Google’s credibility. They are on borrowed time and need to deliver quality products. “Features, not Products” says it all. Let’s hope this is indeed what they do.


For a database app, at least hosted by Google, they could modify Google Base. This way anything shared could be added to the public database automatically.

If they ever get around to placing all of the ‘Office’ tools on an appliance this might take more effort to replicate. That’s the one thing I am waiting for Google releasing these to be deployed internal to an organization on an appliance.

Tie this into their search engine and you not only have the productivity applications, which should tie into the online version. But you could also have a way for the search appliance to index and build the ‘SharePoint-ish’ document repository automatically

If I recall correctly IBM sells a network-based Office suite based upon the old Smart Suite of products (to think I used to teach that…maybe I’m officially ‘old’ now).



“Buying YouTube […] was company’s first outside acquisition, indicating the NIH syndrome is gone.”

First outside acquistion ?? Well, I guess that Picasa, writely, keyhole and the others ( where just details.

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