Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

The future of Google’s web apps

Outside of its advertising business, I’m quite sure Google’s second major revenue stream is going to be its Google Apps business. Today, I was asked to participate in an online survey related to my experiences with Google Apps Premier Edition and it gave a fascinating insight into where Google is likely heading with this stuff.

Firstly, it’s quite obvious that Google has created a survey application (see screenshot below in thumbnail). Now obviously this is not a big deal, but it gives an indication as to just how extensive a Google suite can be. At the moment, we use Survey Monkey to do our customer and internal surveys, but we’d instantly start using Google Survey as a Premier Customer. BTW, the app ran at http://survey.google.com

Google survey

However, the really interesting page came towards the back of the survey when it asked what applications were important to our company.

Future Google Apps

I believe this gives the best possible indication yet of the applications that Google is planning. Here are the apps, it talks about: Email, spreadsheets, word processing, presentation, calendars, online file sharing, web page creation, project management, online discussion groups, contact management

Of these email, spreadsheets, word processing, web site creation are already part of the Google Apps package. Online discussion groups is a product but not part of Apps, and would tie in very nicely. Online file sharing has been talked about for some time, under the platypus code name. It’s an obvious fit with this.

Project Management is an application I expect to see this year. As we all know, Google’s engineers tend to build-their-own-apps, and it’s almost guaranteed that someone, somewhere within Google has been working on a project management application. This will be a killer application to add to the suite, IMO, and will give it significant differentiation over what Microsoft offers. We currently use Ace Project for our project management needs, and again, we’d switch over an instant to something that integrated with the rest of the Google apps.

Contact management is another no-brainer for Google. Already, in Google Apps, you can enable contact sharing. Google just needs to give me the ability to add notes and give me a nice interface and with the integration with gmail this would be another brilliant addition. We have just started using 37Signals Highrise application and while there’s a bunch that’s great about it, there’s also a lot that is frustating me, trying to make it work within our organisation. To have that type of product integrated into Google Apps would be fabulous.

The other big question that Google asks is:
How important is offline capability for your organisation?

This is something I’ve blogged about many times, but Google is clearly thinking about online/offline capabilities.

What’s missing? There’s nothing about wikis. I wish Google would communicate with us, what it’s plans are for Jotspot. We were a Jotspot user, but we’ve passed over the platform at the moment, because I’ve received no correspondence from Google since it acquired the product as to what was going to happen with it. Clearly, that Wiki platform has the potential to tie together all of this stuff. Most of these applications were already a part of Jotspot when it got acquired.

And while I’m here, I just want to reiterate to Google that it needs to get that Start page in order, because it’s a blight on the entire suite. And Google Analytics absolutely has to be part of the suite.

Why is all this exciting. Because Google can integrate it and make it all seamless. I still can’t believe, for example, that 37signals didn’t integrate Highrise with Basecamp. And the lack of integration between Zoho’s products is the biggest drawback with their suite. The potential to have a contact manager, email, calendaring, project management that all works together would be the greatest thing to happen to the online application space ever. Our organisation currently has six separate contact databases, because none of our web apps talk to each other. The first company that truly integrates all these standard web apps, will own the market.

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Filed under: Online Applications

Vote Squash

Late last Thursday night, Squash was bored and decided to enter a TechCrunch competition inviting bloggers to trash his site or a post. That’s the type of challenge Squash can’t resist so we spat out this post which if our memory serves us correctly we knocked off somewhere between the hours of 3am and 4am in this morning…

Anyway, despite that, we’ve made it as a Finalist. We think that has a lot to do with the lack of quality of the other entries (you can’t bag someone out and then spend paragraphs saying I’m only joking, I really love TechCrunch) but hey, I take any positive reinforcement where I can get it.

So Vote Squash. It’s the Trashing TechCrunch post.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Trashing TechCrunch

Squash has never needed a reason to unload bile on somebody, but when we literally get invited to stick the steel-capped Docs (that’s Doc Martens, not Google Docs, you Web 2.0 freaks) into somebody’s rib cage AND THEN get the lure of $1500 worth of lucre as incentive, well all I can say is line up them shoeshine boys because there’s going to be some scrubbin’ tonight to get the evidence off of this pair of ball busters. So Arrington in writing up this kick-me-in-the-balls competition suggests that potential-trashers start at the site’s Company Index page. TechCrunch is so bad, I don’t even need to go past this page to prove what an amateurish joke this poor excuse for a media-wannabe really is. I will give it this much. TechCrunch’s Companies page is a very accurate reflection of the state of Web 2.0. That is, pitiful. This page is based on tags, yeh? You know, what I’m talking about. Tags. We used to call them categories, before someone put some thought and a bit of effort into the concept and developed them into taxonomies. But then along came “folksonomy” and the business of categorising content was plunged back a decade because it became all-too-difficult to categorise the great wonder that is supposedly Web 2.0. Well, guess what folksonomists, a bunch of four-eyed librarians worked out a far more useful and sophisticated system 130-odd years ago called the Dewey system. And anyone who has built a real content system knows the first-place you start is with a really strong taxonomy. It’s not that hard. But I guess when you cobble together something that’s such a mish-mashed and muddled mess as TechCrunch is then you’ve hardly got time to bother to properly organise your information do you? 

(But please, go ahead, rename something that’s existed for eons, bundle it up with a god-awful buzzword that makes no sense and call it progress. That’s the whole idea behind Web 2.0, after all, isn’t it?)

 Why do tags suck? Well, unless you actually care about what you’re doing, they get stuffed up. As TechCrunch so kindly assists us in demonstrating. Start scanning your eyes down the list of companies and products (TechCrunch was just kidding when they called it a Companies Index – there’s products in there too – because it’s based on tags remember and tags can’t distinguish between such things). You only have to get seven entries down before you hit 30 Boxes. Oh wait, perhaps they mean 30Boxes. TechCrunch doesn’t know which is correct? So don’t ask me. We suspect that if a tag has a space left in, it means it’s the collection of really sucky ‘oh-what-a-great-start-up-can-you-let-me-in-early-on-the-friends-and-family-offering’ style of stories , whereas if the space is missing it’s a ‘pull-together of the oh-shit-my-readers-are-seeing-through-all-the-kiss-arse-content-I-better-pick-on-a-couple-of-easy-marks-my-buddies-don’t-operate’ style of piece. Think 30Boxes is a misnomer? Well, keep scanning. Don’t go too far down, you only need to reach the A’s before you’re hit with another howler. Is it Azureus or is Azeurus? Apparently, little stuff that happens in a real newsroom like checking company names is optional when you’re a blogger.  

(And if you live outside of the US and are prone-to-wonder why Web 2.0 never seems to happen anywhere but in the land-of-stars-and-stripes then consider this piece of jingoistic claptrap from Arrington on one of the Azureus, or was that Azeurus’ posts:

 It is a tragedy that they didn’t include the only BBC show worth watching, The Office”.

 Squash wonders if The Office was any good before the Americans managed to rip it off. Message to all Britains. Turn off the BBC immediately – your YouTube is waiting…. And while, I’m hanging around this dreadful piece of faux-journalism is anyone else sick of Arrington writing lines like this:  “This spells trouble for Pando and Red Swoosh, which offer competing products to publishers”.  

It appears a hell of a lot lot of big-funded projects spell trouble for a lot of well-established start-up these days, probably in the same manner that TechCrunch spells Az-whateva. Success is not always measured by the size-of-your-VC-slush-fund, Michael)

 Anyway, the disaster that is TechCrunch tags goes on unbounded. Is it Moveable Type or is MoveableType? Should you look under Universal Music or Universal Music Group? Do you crack open a VideoEgg or a Video Egg? Pfft. Such details. Throw me another $10k for one of those tile ads, will ya? And can someone please remind me as to what advantages these tags have over doing a simple keyword search? It’s not as if any useful thought has been put into them, like actually using tags to group similar companies or particular markets together. I’m pretty sure if I wanted to find all the Google stories then typing Google into the search bar is going to work just as well as linking to these inane tags. But damned if TechCrunch is going to offer me much help me to find all the stories it’s written about Ajax desktops. Oh, that’s where I’m supposed to use a keyword search? I see the logic. Not. Thanks very much TechCrunch. Or is Tech Crunch? Oh hang on, they got they one right. And they got CrunchGear, CrunchBoard, MobileCrunch and edgeio all correct. Funny about that, hey? What was that? Yes, that was the sound of a rib breaking. Except, this is the problem living in Australia. We get way too much BBC television and you can never find anyone to shine your shoes. Dammit, Micky, sounds like I need to get myself over to the Good-ol-US-of-A for a Web conference. I’ve clearly got a bunch to learn. Like learning how to generate trackbacks!

Filed under: Self-indulgent wanking, Tech Crunch, TechCrunch

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