Monday, December 17, 2007

Velocity matters

This NYT article tries to think big about Google's cloud computing strategy, and generally doesn't get too far. But it has flashes like this one (my emphasis):
MR. SCHMIDT readily concedes that cloud computing won’t happen overnight. Big companies change habits slowly, as do older consumers. Clever software is needed — and under development, he says — to overcome other shortcomings like the “airplane issue,” or how users can keep working when they find themselves unable to get online.

Yet small and midsize companies, as well as universities and individuals — in other words, a majority of computer users — could shift toward Web-based cloud computing fairly quickly, Mr. Schmidt contends. Small businesses, he says, could greatly reduce their costs and technology headaches by adopting the Web offerings now available from Google and others.

It makes no sense to run your own computers if you are a small business starting up,” he says. “You’d be crazy to buy packaged software.”
Right, but more importantly, Google has focused on the collaborative aspects that have moved to the fore in small businesses. We're seeing a lot of knowledge work being carried out by sole proprietorships and contractors who come together in federations, complete a job, and dissolve again. Prime examples include graphic design and web design, and not surprisingly one of the big early successes in this realm was 37Signals' Basecamp. Google's apps, particularly its office apps, are all aimed at supporting this sort of collaboration. Microsoft, on the other hand, is busily protecting its turf on the desktop, and that hampers it from embracing cloud computing and the collaborative features that go with it -- MS does try to build in those features, but they work against the desktop-centric long-term strategy it has embraced. As broadband penetration becomes deeper and broader, the limits of that strategy will show themselves. Google will not necessarily win in the cloud computing market, but it's the pioneer.
Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft - New York Times

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