March 8, 2006

Google's Here, Party's Over

i get the distinct feeling that there's a huge dark cloud over the online storage and online calendar markets. it's called google. vertical companies, like 30 boxes, Box.net, and OmniDrive, and horizontal ones, like Goowy, must be a little nervous of the tiny search company turned financial and corporate behemoth. after all, google is actively working on both a calendar application (CL2) and online storage (GDrive). apparently they also want to buy new zealand. the real problem for these companies isn't just that there are armies of engineers at google working on this (which, honestly, is kind of a problem, but surmountable), but rather that: 1) people don't even know that they need this stuff yet: if i ask 30 of my friends (yes, i do have that many) what online calendar they use, most of them will look at me blankly. same thing with online storage. yet, honestly, they really really need these things. they just don't know it. in three years, they won't even remember a time when they didn't have them. social networking sites like facebook and myspace are useful for connecting, but they're so much more with their extraneous features. social networking sites that build a notion of 'sharing' things (bookmarks (del.icio.us), photos (flickr), professional connections (linkedin), musical tastes (last.fm and yahoo! music), video (youtube), etc.) are going to have incredible, unimaginable utility. just think about how ubiquitous evite has become in our generation, and it has barely scratched the surface of networking. the point is social networking with a purpose, as opposed to social networking for networking's sake. online calendaring and storing are two areas that, for the most part, seem pretty under-penetrated and are enormous opportunities. they'll soon be like e-mail or chat, completely ubiquitous and insanely useful. bet on it. and therin lies the other problem for these companies... 2) google has a massive captive audience of subtle social networks (gmail): i'm trying to think of adoption mechanisms for my friends for these applications. the chances of them going to 30 boxes, thinking "hey, this is pretty cool," and adopting it heavily after i sternly tell them so? maybe 1 in 5. and, honestly, 30 boxes really nails a lot of good things in calendaring. but, the chances of my friends adopting CL2 when google pops it out for real? probably 9 in 10 gmail users, as long as it's done reasonably well. and i know a LOT of gmail users. for online storage the rates for both will be lower until people realize how much utility it provides, but probably similar comparative ratios. so is all hope lost for my favorites (Box.net and 30 boxes)? i don't think so. but to even keep my attention (and i use them a lot right now), one of two things will have to happen. 1) as a heavy gmail user, i'll have to be swayed with functionality and features that are so rich in comparison to CL2 and GDrive, with their probable integrations with gmail and (more importantly) my contacts, that i would be crazy to switch. either that or, 2) google will need to really fuck up those products. if i were the little guys, i'd try to bet on the first.

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2 Comments:

At 3/09/2006 06:58:00 AM, Blogger pseudostoops said...

um, so, jack? you seem to know a lot about this stuff? if i'm feeling a little spooked because 3 of my friends have had hard drive failures this month? and i'm a little worried that my system of "back up onto a jump drive that i got for free from a lawfirm during on campus interviewing" is going to seem a little paltry if my computer goes kaput?

what should i do? online? external hard drive? prayer?

 
At 3/09/2006 07:21:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Tech Right said...

Good write up. In my opinion Google is going to bring the hammer down on these other online calendars. It's just a matter of time. I am a heavy user of box.net as well - time will tell.

 

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