NYTimes writes about Google’s plans “to introduce a powerful file and text software search tool for locating information stored on personal computers”:
The Google software project, which is code-named Puffin and which will be available as a free download from Google’s Web site, has been running internally at the company for about a year.
The project was started, in part, to prepare Google for competing with Windows Longhorn, which according to industry analysts will dispense with the need for a stand-alone browser.
The disappearance of the Web browser and the integration of both Web search and PC search into the Windows operating system could potentially marginalize Google’s search engine. Google, well aware of this threat, hired a Microsoft product manager last year to oversee the Puffin project as part of its strategy to compete with Microsoft’s incursion into its territory.
Google’s strategy is to move quickly while Microsoft is still developing its Longhorn version of Windows, adding programs and services like its recently announced Gmail electronic mail program. The intent, say people who are aware of the company’s strategy, is to lower its vulnerability to Microsoft by adding businesses that are “sticky” – in other words, businesses that create strong customer loyalty or are hard to switch away from.
Internet searching is widely seen by industry executives as a powerful commercial service, but one that is difficult to defend. It is widely presumed that Internet users who find a search service that is better than Google’s will be willing to defect.
Searches for information stored on a PC, however, could offer an advertising arena that is more readily defensible. Indeed, desktop searching might be particularly valuable for Google’s commercial advertisers, which may be willing to pay dearly for the ability to place targeted ads in front of personal computer users.