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.