Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Google ‘Lighthouse?’ centre of the online universe

One of things that came out of the Google Analyst briefing presentation was a project Google is working on called Lighthouse.

This is what we were able to glean:

With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc).
We already have efforts in this direction in terms of GDrive, GDS, Lighthouse, but all of them face bandwidth and storage constraints today.


Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user’s data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications. For example: a user’s Orkut profile has more value when it’s accessible from Gmail (as addressbook), Lighthouse (as access list), etc.

Richard McManus speculated that it might be a ” a next-generation file search solution that ‘shines a light’ inside documents on your desktop”. Shii asked: “Could Lighthouse be a privacy-enabled bookmarks system, like Yahoo My Web 2?”

Having thought about this for a couple of days, I think it’s highly likely that Lighthouse is Google’s Online File Management system.

Every file system needs a file management system to organise and set up a file retrieval system and GDrive will be no different. In fact, the challenges that Google faces in building a file management system for an online drive are enormous.

It’s also critical. I’ve mentioned before that I have been favouring Writely over Zoho Writer simply because I felt it had a superior file management system (Zoho has improved their system lately but I still prefer Writely). We’re talking about a couple of dozen word processing files here, imagine how much complex and challenging it gets when you’re talking about storing ALL of your files on an online drive and what’s more making that your “Golden Copy”.

Problems have already been noted with Google Desktop Search (GDS) which breaks when you move files around on your local drive. Google has an enormous amount of work to do in trying to replicate files with a user’s local machine and that’s even without tackling the issue of file sharing. A key advantage of an online file system is the ease of being able to share documents for collaboration and what not, but that opens up a can full of worms in terms of replication issues, copyright issues, privacy issues. (This is likely what Google is talking about in terms of Orkut profiles being used as access control lists in Lighthouse).

While the challenges are enormous, the rewards for making this all work are enormous. If you control the online file management system, surely you also control what online application is used to manipulate a file when online. If you click on an a Word file in your GDrive, ‘Lighthouse’ if this is what it is, will surely launch Writely, if you click on an email GMail will open it up, launch an image and the online version of Picasa kicks into action, etc, etc. Kent Newsome asked why Google would bother with Writely. If you consider Writely in conjunction with my Lighthouse theory then you start to see how Google might successfully lock you into their ecosystem and therefore it’s important that they can provide the whole picture. This is looking even more monopolistic than Microsoft has ever been!

Google Lighthouse (again, assuming I’m right about it) just might be the most important Google application of all.

(If you haven’t read my Google/Writely Online/Offline post, it might be worth reading as background as to where Google’s general strategy could be heading) 

Filed under: Online Advertising

14 Responses

  1. Caitlin says:

    Very interesting. I wonder if I should stop using Blogspot (owned by Google) just to discourage a monopoly… They don’t have everything sewn up though. I used to use Picasa (owned by Google) to post pictures to my blog but I now have a Mac they don’t have a version of Picasa for the Mac (which surprises me). Can anyone suggest alternatives to Picasa?

  2. Derrick says:

    Thanks for the insight on what Lighthouse could be. Writely’s PDF output feature is also consistent with the online/offline vision.

    More about this on my blog post

  3. Piece by piece, you can really start to see Google’s platform come together. By the time the browser evolves to augment the desktop, the pieces will in place for Google to slide right in.

    Admittidly so, all of these random pieces of software really makes Google look like they lack a direction. But there has to be a grander scheme behind it all.

  4. continium says:

    Google is slowly spreading out in all directions. This Lighthouse project seems very interesting but if Google succeeds with all their projects they will have a monopoly as was said above.

  5. […] Squash comments: “With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc). We already have efforts in this direction in terms of GDrive, GDS, … but all of them face bandwidth and storage constraints today.” […]

  6. moo says:

    Google operates like an AirLine, they do not have ENOUGH seats (storage), they rely on the fact NOBODY will use up ALL their storage quota. They overbook.

    Its a doomed model.

  7. […] Squash » Blog Archive » Google ‘Lighthouse?’ centre of the online universe (tags: google) […]

  8. […] Enjoyable site where they slate all of Googles strategy and projects: FuckedGoogle. The other side of the coin: Speculation on Google’s online file storage system. […]

  9. Dave says:

    Google came up in this article about a different mobile user solution.

  10. bob2001 says:

    About “the competiton.”

    I found and interesting blog about It made me laugh out loud. Try the link below:

  11. Candice says:

    logically, can google even be thought of as a monopoly when the services are free & they give users the option to choose?

    defintion: “Law. A right granted by a government giving exclusive control over a specified commercial activity to a single party.”

    just something to think about…

    you should try it…

    the mind is a terrible thing to waste, mister sim.

  12. Darin says:

    Well Candice, if you quote definition of monopoly from, you should also consider meaning other than Law context, such as
    “A situation in which a single company or group owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service.”

    The thing you should remember, when you relying on using googleOS (lighthouse) as your OS, you can only use all the softwares provided by it. You cannot install your MS office Word, or staroffice, etc. there or asking google to install it, since google just uses writely for that purpose. For picture editing, you must use Picasa. Unless you want to download your file to your local machine, do editing, then upload again to your googleOS, which would be an annoying process for most people.

    Get the point ?

  13. domain says:

    Vista will make too much pressure on Google and it will end up with a radical solution related with internet

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