Monday, February 26, 2007

Are Google Apps Ready to Unseat Microsoft?

Google has unleashed its offering to loosen the global stranglehold Microsoft has on corporate infrastructures. I'm a big fan of their Search, Gmail, Maps and Images search applications. I have a few concerns though on some of their other offerings and how these experiences will transcend into the most important components of our working lives. Here are some of my experiences with their other applications.

Google Mini
The Google Mini was not simple to implement and was very tedious in setting it up. More interesting though was the experience getting it. It’s a piece of hardware that you control via browser. They delivered it to my office while I was on vacation. Instead of letting someone sign for it, they returned it. I called when I got back from vacation and asked what happened. They apologized and resent the Google appliance. The return though automatically triggered a refund, so a week later I received my Google Mini and a check for $5,000. I never cashed the check, but still have it hanging up in my office. How could they not have this simple scenario covered?

Google Video
I’ve sometimes found interesting videos that are only on Google. I want to share these but have had problems doing so. The player often crashes the browser of my friends and my work computer. Now when I have to send out a link to an interesting video, I first search to see if it is on YouTube which has been more reliable. When are they going to merge these two? Also, I’ve not been successful using their software to embed the video on their own blogging service Blogger. I still can’t get the Seth Godin video to play on my Blog.

Google purchased Blogger and made it so that if you have a Google Account you can easily start a blog. Makes sense, but they haven’t worked out the identity management. Blogger never remembers me even though I click on “Remember Me” every time I sign in. When trying to post to Blogger from the video component it refuses to validate my credentials. Very frustrating.

As Google moves into richer and more complex applications and user experiences, will they be successful? It seems as if they excel at the simple applications that generate word of mouth. The buzz about Google Apps Premier Edition so far has been about the price tag of $50 and not the experience. What helped them unseat Yahoo and others was repeated great experiences that people loved to share with others. As they grow and move into this new territory I hope they don't forget this.

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