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Google to Write an ‘Integrated Story’?

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Next in editors provide an early roadmap for tech’s direction in 2007.

Google (Quote) says its mission is to organize all the
world’s information and make it accessible and useful to everyone.

Now well on its way to accomplishing that goal on the consumer Web, the
search giant will increasingly turn its attention to the business Web in

“We’re building towards a big future [in the enterprise space], big
licensing or subscription business, and moving into a lot of other potential
businesses over time,” said Dave Girouard, vice president and general
manager of Google’s enterprise division.

Girouard explained that Google plans to access the enterprise market by
riding in on the shoulders of people like you and me
who already use their applications for fun.

“Our focus is, and really ought to be, with applications that have a place
in the consumer world and port them over to the enterprise and take
advantage of the big Google that everybody knows,” he told

Only the specter of Microsoft (Quote) looms over those ambitions.

In fact, Girouard doesn’t even try very hard to deny that Google views
Microsoft as its principal competition.

But, he said, Google isn’t trying to knock Microsoft entirely off the
desktop. It’s just trying to offer end users more choice.

“It makes perfect sense for organizations to have both options and let users
decide which to use. That would be a very refreshing change,” he said.

Enterprise apps in the cloud

The overwhelming majority of Google’s enterprise revenue so far is generated
by its search appliance business, which is based on the traditional
perpetual license, on-premise model, rather than the cutting-edge
software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

This is ironic to say the least since Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of (Quote), defends SaaS by saying it is the enterprise
doppelganger of what companies like Amazon (Quote), eBay (Quote) and, yes, Google, are doing on the consumer side.

Yes, Docs & Spreadsheets was introduced in 2006, but even Google admits that
it doesn’t measure up to Microsoft Office. At least not yet. That is because, Girouard said, his company has not yet begun to fight.

“This year has been about getting our toe in the water. [Next year] will be
about taking a lot more steps forward,” said Girouard.

Girouard promised that Google will add more functionality to Docs &
Spreadsheets, and also turn additional consumer toys into enterprise-ready
applications. Among the candidates for promotion?

Girouard said that Google Talk, which currently allows users to make VoIP
calls (define) among themselves, will be beefed up to integrate
with traditional phone systems as well as VoIP offerings from other vendors.

Forrester analyst Charlene Li also predicted that Google will make those
digitized voice files searchable, thus increasing the sources of information
that enterprise users can search, store and capture.

“They’re not stopping at data that’s on screens and Web pages,” she told

Girouard also indicated that Google may use the fruits of its acquisitions
of Web 2.0 companies such as wiki-builder Jotspot and
social-networking site Orkut to
build the framework for a collaboration platform.

Another issue that Google intends to tackle, said Girouard, is giving
enterprise users access to their data when they’re not connected to the
Internet — “even if it’s a diminishing problem” thanks to the proliferation
of wireless access.

Gartner analyst Whit Andrews said that Google is putting a lot of emphasis
on geospatial services for enterprise. “They see a lot of power being available in that product line,” he told

Mashups with Google Maps is just one example of how Google consumer
applications have the potential to drive significant enterprise dollars. Google has even signed service level agreements for enterprise contracts for
Google Maps and Google Earth, he said.

Andrews also suggested that blogging tool Blogger could be sold to smaller
companies as an entry-level content management application. Google Video and YouTube could also have powerful value propositions for Google in the enterprise space, he said.

But while Google has enormous presence in many areas, Andrews argued that it
has yet to turn that hegemony into a sustainable advantage, especially when
faced with a competitor the likes of Microsoft. “Microsoft has a product in everything that has just been described,” he noted.

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