In light of recent announcements and blog posts from TechCrunch and other online resources of mine, I thought I should talk about the current state of affairs at Google (or at least, my perspective). As this is partly included in the series of posts on old tech, introduced in the preceding post, lets make sure we know where we are coming from (to quote a famous song) and to give my possibly technologically inferior readers a good starting point for this post.
For all those oldies out there, remember Alta Vista? That old, crappy, insignificant search engine? Well, that was once everyones port of call when it came to internet search! Google Swiftly, and without a trace, murdered it and took over, after its launch in 1998. The company expanded into more areas and is now, as you should now know, developing a phone OS called Android, which I personally believe is flawed from the ground up, to be rationalised later.
Now thats out the way, lets start on the interesting stuff. Google have ventured into the smartphone business, but they have also invested in many other technologies, largely web based, such as Gmail, Chromium projects, Docs, Calendar and most importantly, computer operating systems. The soon to be released “Chrome Books” are running the latest version of Chromium OS. This is largely based on the fact that everything is online, and one only needs a browser. For the most part on netbooks, this is true: how many of you store your documents, or calendars, or contacts, or mail, and the list goes on, online, “in the cloud” in some form or another? Many people already do this, like me, so the idea is not all that bad.
The problem arouses when one takes a step back and looks at the current products and services of Google compared to, lets say, Apple. Google have not build up an ecosystem very well. There is Chrome, running as a web browser and as an OS, Android and all the web services. Android and Chrome are viewed as two separate systems. I mean, Google have not even had the initiative to put the Chrome browser into the Android system, but instead, call the web browser on it “browser”. There is integration between Android and their web services, but not as much as they know they can do, if the Chrome and Android teams worked closer together.
Oh, lets not forget, Open. You have probably heard that word everywhere by now: this system is open, that system is open. Let me clarify what this means exactly. One may have full access to source code, or any type of code for that matter relating to the “open” product, modify the code, share the code (but not sell it) and load anything up on to the device in question. Google claim to be open. That is complete bullfaeces (to refrain from swearing in my highly amusing way). Google are not going to give you their search algorithm, which is probably the most valued piece of information in the search industry. They will not give you 14 years of hard work just like that. If they did this, they would be truly open. Yes, fine, the android system is more open than iOS, but the apps available on the marketplace are still monitored by Google.
Lets move away from Google for now and compare it to Apple, a company who have built their ecosystem up over many, many years. They have a line of products, and they work seamlessly with one another: Macs+iPhone, iPhone+Apple TV, iPad+iTunes, Everything+iCloud (a point for a later post). Just to make a parallel example, Apple’s Safari web browser is installed across all devises, unlike Google’s Chrome. One can mention many other ways in which these things work with one another, but I will stop there, and move swiftly on.
To counter Google’s approach to their “open” nature, Apple is again, a good example. They have put strict controls on their App stores, be it iOS or Mac. They have strict regulations and standards, which if not met, means certain expulsion of your app from the kingdom of Apple. This has proved to be very advantageous in the past years. The app stores are not crowded with crappy apps, meaning the end user gets the best experience. Google also moderate their stores, but granted, not as much as Apple. This results in hundreds of pointless apps, some with viruses, as proved in the recent months.
So, where is Google going, and what will they do next? That is the excitement behind the mystical shroud of secrecy that Google, Apple and every other company hide behind. We will just have to wait and see what comes.
Just to add on to the end here, I am well aware that this is one of my less well written posts, but I will guarantee many other posts to come over the summer. Just be patient…