Google OS or My Life with Google
Wow, what a move. Seems like Google is really serious about taking on the IT world - not that there was any doubt about it after the last few years.
It started out with the search engine, and I remember I was using Dogpile as a search engine back then. Dogpile queried several search engines back then, and Google was one of them. I didn’t see the need to switch, I felt I got the Google results anyway. But very soon, it seemed like Google is really all you need. I thought the caching function was simply awesome, being able to see pages that were long gone.
Next came Gmail, and again I thought I really didn’t need yet another web mail provider. I already had GMX, MyRealBox, a couple of college accounts and a few POPs, so do I need one more? But Google was smart again, with their “Invite only” scheme, they lured me in. Back then, it was just cool to be one of the “chosen people” and once an online acquaintance said he could invite me, I pounced on it. Not that I was a really early adopter - I just checked and my first Gmail dates 9/1/04, but it was still invite only and you only had 5 invites or so. Now, 5 years later, Gmail is pretty much all I use, thanks to the vast amount of storage and retention they offered. And again, they were the forerunner and almost everyone has now switched from the measly 10 MB they used to offer to several GB.
Over the next years they have come out with a few new products, which imho are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Google Docs are nice, but nothing special. The calendar application seems to be popular with some. There is the chat, uh well - I am not a big chatter. I do use the Google Books for classes, sometimes I am lucky and the book I am using in class is available, often in a different edition or older version but nevertheless enough to give me quick access for tests or just to read up while at work.
Then late last year they released the browser Google Chrome. While they say it is now the fourth most browser, that doesn’t mean much because it still is just a user base of less than 2%. I have to admit that I have come to like it more and more. When I am coding web pages, I use it to avoid installing Safari. Both are based on Apple’s open source engine WebKit, but Chrome is not nagging as much with updates and fixes - Safari is relentless. Both have a way of just “looking pretty” - the Mac way. Try it if you haven’t gotten around to it. It is very non-obtrusive, it’s a very light-weight download (under 1 MB IIRC) and can easily be installed and uninstalled. Again, not a real revolution but as a budding web devloper, I welcome every competitor to the all mighty Internet Explorer.
There are more members in the Google family, but stuff like YouTube, Google Groups, Blogger etc. were really just acquisitions or integrations of well established services.
Now today I found this in my Wired newsfeed: Google Announces PC Operating System to Compete with Windows - now there is a revolution in the making. Google has always been a hit with mainstream PC people. Will this be the operating system that Linux always tried to be, but was too geeky to deliver to the Average Joe? It is a Linux flavor, but it will be heavily based on Chrome. The way I understand it, it is almost like a front end to the web and as browser-centric as Windows tried to be. And from what I see from friens and relatives, the web is pretty much the only thing 80% of all PC home users need anyway - email, reading news and gossip, general communication, Facebook/MySpace - you don’t need an operating system for that, you just need a browser. With Web 2.0 this is more true than ever.
Now, they already have Android, the mobile OS used by the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 cell phone. It never generated the buzz it probably should have simply because most people considered it an iPhone rip-off. Unfortunately, I never saw one in the wild - also an indication of the low market penetration.
So, am I too much of a fan girl for being excited about this? Am I a chump for thinking Google is the fair-haired boy of the internet? Should I be scared that Google is slowly crawling into just about every part of my life?