Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What is the downside?

I've been trolling around the behemoth known as Google for the last few days exploring the very nooks and crannies that make them what they are. I got a gmail account a few years ago thanks to a good friend who sent me an invite. I now use that address for all my academically related items. I started blogging a year and a half ago just to see what all the stuff was about, and have enjoyed the creativity that it affords me. I recently started probing around and have discovered a slate of features that make me both excited and a little cautious:

Google Calendar is a very nice feature that will send me an SMS message when I have an appointment listed on their service.

Google Reader is an RSS aggregator that is surprisingly easy to use, and lets me keep all my usual haunts (at least those with RSS functionality) in one place.

Google Earth is a wonderful way to kill time while zooming in and out on your favorite vacation spots. People have actually plotted points of interest here that include (among others): airplanes photographed in flight, cruise ships docked in multiple places simultaneously, and people doing ordinary things outside.

Google also has a docs and spreadsheet feature that they basically bought outright from Writely. The concept is cool, but the funcionality of it has me thinking a lot about the need for, and future of, group based software.

On a larger scale, with all this free stuff, what is in it for Google? The old adage of nothing is truly free reverberates with me much more than usual on this. Yes, the basic structure of the Internet was built on getting free stuff (browsers, video clips, music, etc . . .) but from a business sense, what is the bigger picture here?

I would love to hear some other viewpoints on this.

-D

6 comments:

Maria said...

Hey AVGeek....interesting blog about Google's solid offerings. Once again, I'm reminded how solid this company is. It's pretty impressive. (I didn't even know about Google Reader. I'm definitely going to give it a try.)

I tried Docs out for the first time today -- and it wasn't bad. The fact that I could work on it with other people is really, really cool.

I'm wondering if the recent lackluster response to Vista is due to the fact that Google is releasing such exciting stuff. At least one bloggerseems to think so.

Anyway, thanks for the post. It made me excited about Google. Keep blogging!

Maria

The Missional Position said...

D-Man,

Hey, my honest answer is I don't know what is in it for them except free stuff brings users/viewers/browsers and that generates ad revenue. One site I read by googling "how google makes money?" (irony anyone?) said that last year alone Google generated $6 billion in ad revenue.

I wonder what the research is on the effectiveness of internet adds. Most browsers now have ad blockers and pop-up blockers. I hardly notice most ads anymore at all.

I am using Google Reader as we speak, setting it all up. And I just came across a new google feature that allows people to upload sermons. Gonna check that out in the next few days.

What you really need to blog about and investigate is Mozilla Firefox and the AWESOMELYIESTEST MOST INCREDIBLY INCREDIBLE add ons available for that. Get your media credentials working for you on the Mozilla tip. I use the Perfomancing add on that allows you to blog straight from you browser with out actually logging in to your blog account. I use the awesome search intergration capabilities, google, ask.com, imdb, biblegateway, technorati, flickr, espn, websters, wikipedia and others all right in the top right corner of my browser a click away. And so many others. Oh I can't forget FoxyTunes, control Itunes or whatever media player you use right from your browser.

Later Fridgerator,
Michael

Ensign Eddie said...

Two things:

1) Google IS getting paid. Just not by the end user (those search results at the top and on the right are paid for)

2) Just because it's free to use now does not mean it will always stay that way. I expect "Google Premium" to show up in a year or two.

AVGeek said...

I think it's still fascinating that the Internet has led to actually giving away services to lure the customer in the door. This is not new as loss leaders have been around for years, but the affordances offered by the free stuff are rather tantalizing. Combine this with a minimal financial commitment from Google (I figure all it costs Google is the bandwidth and a few programmers' salaries) and a population that is increasingly connected makes one wonder what the future holds. Might we be taking vacations in the future to resorts that advertise their lack of wireless Internet or telephones?

On another front, I did a discussion in my class last week that went off just a tad better than I thought it would. We looked at the effect that technology has on the communication process.

Much food for thought here.
-d

edieraye said...

Too much information aggregated in one place = too much power. Information is a precious commodity that is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. But then I do read too much science fiction!

Ryan V said...

I think google's intent is to get ads in front of your face. Seeing as Google ads are pretty much resistant to the adblockers out there (they're text, not flash/images) they stand a good chance of making it a lot further than some of the other ad agencies.

I'm willing to see a few ads to look at the services they offer...