Nick Bradbury writes that “the more I look at what Google is doing, the more convinced I am that we’re witnessing the birth of the next Microsoft.”
The big problem for Google – and the big advantage for Microsoft – is that the vast majority of computer users have all of their data on their Windows-powered desktop computers. So what does Google do? Try to get people to move their data to the web (through Google, of course). Google has already identified email and digital photos as two of the primary uses of desktop computers, and they’ve responded with Gmail and (to a much lesser degree, so far) Picasa. Then they release the Google Desktop, which further blurs the line between the web and your desktop by enabling you to search your hard drive using the familiar, simple Google interface. What will we see next? GMusic? GDocuments? Others have speculated whether a GBrowser is in the works, although that certainly remains to be seen. Regardless, Windows is being marginalized piece by piece, and Microsoft can’t stop it. The internet is the next OS, and Google is becoming a primary force behind it.
I believe that open standards are far more important than open source, since open standards mean you can share your data regardless of whether you access it through commercial or open source software (and regardless of which OS you’re using). The software doesn’t matter: the data does.
My assumption is that the internet OS of the future will replace your desktop OS, your television, your newspaper, etc., to become (by far) the primary source of information. Today, TV is widely used by the government and industry to provide only the information that will help sell their ideas and products. So what happens when the TV knows who you are? If you look at this 10 years down the road, it doesn’t seem too scary. But 50 years, 100 years, from now, what will we have built? I just want to make sure we know what we’re building.